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Morgan ton sinks South Africa

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 24-05-2017 skysports.com
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Eoin Morgan's 10th century for England and a sparkling Moeen Ali cameo sent South Africa spiralling towards a 72-run defeat in the first Royal London One-Day international. 

Captain Morgan top-scored with 107 but Moeen, who came to the wicket with England 198-5, provided the vital thrust with 77 not out off 51 deliveries to put the hosts out of reach on 339-8 - the highest ODI score recorded at Headingley.

Hashim Amla (73) and Faf Du Plessis (67) gave South Africa every chance of chasing down their target only for the innings to fall away as six wickets vanished for 80 runs, even with Ben Stokes limited to just two overs because of a sore left knee - the Proteas closing on 267 off 45 overs with Chris Woakes bagging 4-38.

With the start of the ICC Champions Trophy barely a week away, Stokes' fitness is a worry but England's victory against the number one-ranked ODI side on the planet remains as timely as it is convincing and Morgan's men can wrap up the three-game series with victory at the Ageas Bowl on Saturday.

The match was played against the sombre backdrop of the aftermath of Monday's bombing in Manchester, the players wearing black armbands and observing a minute's silence before play began.

Alex Hales (61) and Joe Root (37) forged a 98-run stand for England's second wicket after Jason Roy nicked Wayne Parnell's second ball through to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.

The opener celebrated reaching his half-century off 52 deliveries by launching Parnell over long on for the first six of the game only to nibble at Andile Phehlukwayo's loosener when well-set.

Root also failed to push on - Phehlukwayo surprising the Yorkshireman with a straight, short ball that he could only loop to Amla at mid-wicket.

His departure brought Stokes, fresh from his MVP performances at the Indian Premier League, to the crease but Morgan showed greater intent, despatching Phehlukwayo for a second six over wide long off and reaching his half-century with a thumping cut for four off Imran Tahir.

Stokes (25) could not match his captain's dynamism, pulling Rabada well in front of square to David Miller, who took a flat catch well on the rope and South Africa's decision to attack Jos Buttler from the off paid off when the right-hander clipped Chris Morris around the corner where Miller took a smart catch to his right.

Morgan, though, was immoveable and cashed in on a free-hit by mowing a third six off Phehlukwayo's slower delivery - the sight of the soaring ball galvanising Moeen into a crashing six over midwicket off Parnell.

With in-form Jonny Bairstow watching from the sidelines, Moeen rallied further by plundering three sixes off the 45th over bowled by Tahir - successfully negating the spinner and reaching a 35-ball fifty in the process.

His 117-run stand with Morgan was the best sixth-wicket partnership for England against SA in ODIs, beating the previous best of 112 by Neil Fairbrother and Adam Hollioake at Dhaka in 1998, and once Morgan had holed out after reaching his century with a six off Rabada, Moeen finished off the innings in style by swinging the final ball from Morris for six.

England struck early in South Africa's chase - de Kock, tied down by Woakes, top-edging a towering catch to short fine leg where Buttler took a fine diving catch.

Amla and Faf du Plessis stabilised the innings immediately, putting on 112 for the second wicket, until both fell in the space of four runs.

Wood achieved the breakthrough, successfully overturning a 'not out' lbw verdict against Amla before Plunkett - whose first five overs cost just 21 runs - returned to find the edge of Du Plessis' bat as he looked to work to leg.

When JP Duminy pulled an Adil Rashid half-tracker straight to Woakes on the rope to make it 182-4, the match was firmly in the balance and it swung decisively in England's favour with the departure of Miller and Morris within eight runs.

AB de Villiers battled gamely for 45 off 38 balls but with partners running out had no choice but to take the attack to England and picked out Plunkett in the deep off Moeen.

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