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Ben Stokes Urges England to Take South Africa Form Into Champions Trophy

AFP | Updated: May 28, 2017, 10:25 AM IST
Ben Stokes Urges England to Take South Africa Form Into Champions Trophy

England cricket team in action against South Africa. (Getty Images)

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Southampton: England all-rounder Ben Stokes urged the tournament hosts to maintain their momentum heading into the Champions Trophy after a dramatic series victory over South Africa at Southampton on Saturday.

Man-of-the-match Stokes made a superb century before England sealed a stunning last-ball win in the second one-day international to go 2-0 up with just one to play ahead of Monday's finale at Lord's.

The all-rounder, who struck 11 fours and three sixes in 79 balls as he equalled his highest ODI score of 101, told Sky Sports: "It's always nice hitting the ball well and knowing you've got a bit of form behind you."

Jos Buttler chipped in with a dashing 65 not out and Stokes added: "We've seen Jos hitting the ball nicely, which is great for us going forward.

"Hopefully we can just continue going forward and continue this form into the Champions Trophy."

Stokes, however, bowled just the three overs on Saturday having suffered a knee injury in England's 72-run win in the first ODI at Headingley on Wednesday.

"It's just the bowling that's getting affected by my knee," said Stokes.

"Batting, fielding and running around isn't an issue."

South Africa, chasing 331 to win after England made 330 for six, saw opener Quinton de Kock make a stylish 98.

Further half-centuries from skipper AB de Villiers (52) and David Miller (71 not out), plus somne powerful hitting from Chris Morris, took the Proteas to the brink of victory.

They needed seven off the last over but were denied by England fast bowler Mark Wood, with South Africa finishing on 328 for five.

England captain Eoin Morgan said the fact his side had prevailed in a close finish augured well for their Champions Trophy chances.

"I think the tournament is bound to be pretty tight," said Morgan of an event featuring the world's top eight ODI sides.

"There are a lot of good teams around so this sort of prep today I think is ideal," added Morgan, whose side launch the Champions Trophy against Bangladesh at The Oval on Thursday.

De Villiers did his best to put a brave face on a loss that saw the Proteas, top of the International Cricket Council's ODI rankings, drop six catches.

"I thought the boys played exceptionally well at the end there," he said.

"It's unfortunate that we didn't cross the line but I'm proud of the way we fought right until the end."

First Published: May 28, 2017, 10:25 AM IST
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