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England crushed South Africa by 6 wickets in the fourth ODI of the series at Lord's to take an unassailable 2-1 lead with just one game left to play. The game was a near mirror image of the match at The Oval on Friday with South Africa meandering to 220-8 in their 50 overs with plenty of their top order batsmen getting starts but no one going on to make a telling contribution. England were comfortable for large periods of the chase as a 141 run partnership between Ian Bell (88) and Jonathan Trott (48) laid the foundation for the run chase. The Proteas have a lot of work to do in getting their team composition right, their batsmen showing greater application and their skipper doing better with his bowler rotation if they are to consistently challenge for top spot in this format of the game.
The home of cricket, Lord's, welcomed the visiting South Africans for the second time this summer as the Proteas battled England in the 4th ODI of the series, hoping to reclaim the no.1 ODI ranking with a win. The flip of the coin went England's way and the hosts had no hesitation in fielding first under overcast skies.
England were unchanged for this game, while South Africa made one edit to their bowling unit with Morne Morkel getting rotated out of the side with Ryan McLaren returning in the tall seamer's place.
Runs were hard to come by initially against the moving ball, and South Africa struggled in particular to rotate the strike. Hashim Amla had a big stroke of fortune in the 5th over with James Tredwell dropping the in-form batsman in the slips when he had just 4 runs to his name. South Africa made slow progress though and stuttered to 32-0 after 10 overs.
It was soon Graeme Smith's turn to have some good fortune with Tredwell again grassing one off Finn in the 17th over. However, the former skipper failed to make the most of his opportunity, falling a couple of overs later to Jade Dernbach for a slow 29 from 54 balls.
JP Duminy was bumped up the order to no.3 for this game, and his arrival gave the Proteas innings some impetus. Hashim Amla, who had struck Dernbach for 6 just before Smith's dismissal, also kicked on a bit and pushed the run rate above 4.
England got the big wicket of Amla though against the run of play, bowled by a beauty from part-timer Ravi Bopara that came into the batsman. Amla contributed 45. In the very next over Duminy found himself half-way down the track to a James Tredwell delivery and was beaten by the turn, leaving Craig Kieswetter the easy job of whipping the bails off. South Africa continued to commit hara-kiri, with Faf du Plessis continuing his poor run falling to the magic arm of Bopara for 1, chopping the ball back onto his stumps as South Africa's middle order collapsed for the second straight game, leaving them in a world of trouble at 115-4 in the 29th over.
Skipper AB de Villers (39) and Dean Elgar resurrected the innings by sharing in a 51 run stand for the 5th wicket before the former was also stumped off Tredwell, having dragged his foot out of the crease while attempting to drive the off-spinner against the turn. There was to be more turn and reward for the spinner as Wayne Parnell became the third victim of the stumped Kieswetter bowled Tredwell combination, having contibuted just 5.
Heading into the last 5 overs, South Africa were look well shy of a good score at 178/6. Dean Elgar and Robin Peterson set about to correct that issue as the pair added 40 runs in just over 5 overs before the former was dismissed by Steve Finn for 35. Peterson though continued to plunder runs, ending up unbeaten on 31 from just 20 balls to give the South African innings a late push to take them through to 220/8 in their 50 overs.
England in response got off to another poor start with Dale Steyn once again striking in his first over, this time trapping Alastair Cook leg before for just 2. England were under the cosh early in their innings as the South African seamers gave absolutely nothing away. However, when the new ball pair of Steyn and Lonwabo Tsotsobe came out of the attack the pressure was relieved and Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott kicked off the run scoring. The pair brought up the England 50 in the 14th over, and by ensuring that wickets stayed in hand, England nudged ahead in the contest.
The Trott - Bell partnership kept knocking off the runs and it looked like there would be no stopping them. AB de Villiers, who had under used his spinners, finally saw one of them give him the breakthrough with Elgar breaking the 141 run partnership by trapping Trott leg before for 48.
South Africa got another breakthrough almost immediately with Ravi Bopara's poor form continuing when he fell for 6, but Ian Bell found a competent partner in Eoin Morgan and they stemmed the rot to inch England ever closer to the target.
Though Bell fell for 88, caught behind off Dale Steyn, there were no hiccups in the run chase as Morgan chipped in with a run a ball 36 while Craig Kieswetter smashed 21 from 12 balls to see England over the finish line in some style, spanking Dale Steyn for a 6 to register the winning runs.
Trent Bridge on Wednesday will host the final match of this rather elongated ODI series, and South Africa will be keen to win that game to draw level in the series.
England: A Cook, I Bell, J Trott, R Bopara, E Morgan, C Kieswetter, J Tredwell, S Patel, J Anderson, S Finn, J Dernbach.
South Africa: H Amla, G Smith, D Elgar, AB de Villiers, F du Plessis, JP Duminy, W Parnell, R Petersen, R McLaren, L Tsotsobe, D Steyn.
South Africa: 220/8 (50 overs, 4.40rpo)
H Amla 45 (73) R Bopara 2-22
AB de Villiers 39 (46) J Tredwell 3-35
England: 224/4 (46.4 overs, 4.80rpo)
I Bell 88 (137) D Steyn 2-47
J Trott 48 (77) D Elgar 1-15
England win by 6 wickets with 20 balls to spare
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