Bruce Talbot reports...
Sussex’s Sarah Taylor scored her seventh one-day hundred as England beat South Africa by 69 runs at The 1st Central County Ground to set up a decider in the three-match series at Canterbury on Friday.
The 29-year-old was named Player of the Match for her 118 from 106 balls. She shared a second-wicket partnership of 156 in 23 overs with opener Tammy Beaumont, whose 101 was her fourth ODI century in the last two years.
They helped England to an imposing total of 331-6 from their 50 overs but South Africa were kept in contention by a superb 117 from opener Lizelle Lee, who pressed the accelerator after a circumspect start, racing from 69 to 100 in just 14 balls.
It took a Sussex combination to make the breakthrough when Lee, who hit 13 fours and five sixes, was caught at backward point by Danni Wyatt off Georgia Elwiss, who had just returned to the attack at the Cromwell Road End.
With the required rate above nine an over by then, South Africa’s race was run and they finished on 262-9 with Elwiss taking 1 for 43 from eight overs. Both she and Wyatt held two catches.
England captain Heather Knight admitted she wasn’t sure what she would have done had she won the toss. But the same pitch used for last Thursday’s Sussex Sharks-Australia game held few terrors and England’s openers Amy Jones and Beaumont set the tone with 71 in 13.3 overs before Jones (29) mis-timed a pull to mid-on.
It was soon evident that both Beaumont and Taylor were determined not to miss out on such good batting conditions. In contrast to their performance in last Saturday’s win at Worcester, South Africa’s bowling lacked discipline and neither batsman gave a chance as they progressed at nearly seven runs an over in a partnership of 156 in 23 overs.
A superbly-timed late cut took Beaumont to three figures with her 12th boundary and it was a surprise when she holed out to long on shortly afterwards after facing 109 balls.
Taylor’s hundred was warmly acclaimed by a 1,700 Hove crowd, many of whom gave her a standing ovation. A partnership of 66 off 50 deliveries with Knight (24) for the fourth wicket took England sailing past 300 and when she had faced just 106 balls when she was out in the 49th over.
Taylor had become only the second player to post three centuries against South Africa in one-day internationals – the other is former England captain Charlotte Edwards – and there was a milestone for Beaumont too as she became the fourth quickest batsman to reach four ODI hundreds.