South Africa 347 for 5 (Bavuma 109, Miller 58*) beat England 342 for 7 (Buttler 94*, Brook 80, Moeen 51) by five wickets
Temba Bavuma scored a defiant hundred as South Africa completed the highest successful chase in Bloemfontein and their third-highest in the format to win the series against England. Crucially, they also gained 10 World Cup Super League points and move into ninth place on the table, just outside of the automatic qualification zone, with three matches left to play.
Bavuma's knock, his third ton in ODIs, came at a significant time in his career. His white-ball captaincy was in the spotlight after South Africa's T20 World Cup exit, he had gone 33 international innings without a three-figure score and he is the only member of the current squad who is not part of the ongoing SA20, South Africa's new marquee franchise competition, with his scoring rate under scrutiny. He put all that aside to set the tone for a statement win and leave England much-vaunted line-up, who had half-centuries from Harry Brook, Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali (for the first time since 2017) in his wake.
But he did not do it alone. South Africa paced their chase to perfection and never let the required rate run away from them. They were 64 without loss after 10 overs, 164 for 1 at the halfway stage and needed 156 runs from their last 20, with seven wickets in hand. Even when wickets fell, their scoring rate kept up and they needed 70 runs off the last 10 overs and only 24 from the last five. David Miller's unbeaten 58 and Marco Jansen's 32 took South Africa over the line with five balls to spare.
South Africa's chase got underway with Quinton de Kock, who left the field after 15 overs in the England innings when he was hit on the right thumb off a Brook under-edge, cleared to bat. He was taken for an X-ray, which did not pick up a fracture, but he did not appear entirely comfortable. He was overshadowed by a determined Bavuma, who dominated their 77-run stand and had even scored twice as many runs as de Kock at one point in the chase. De Kock was tied down by Olly Stone, whom he eventually hit to midwicket to end his knock.
That went almost unnoticed by Bavuma, who batted with intent and scored quickly. In particular, he peppered the on side, where 70 of his total runs came. He was also the senior partner in the 97-run second-wicket partnership with Rassie van der Dussen, who was at the other end when Bavuma, struggling with cramp, drilled Adil Rashid through the covers to bring up his hundred. He celebrated in emphatic style, pointed to his name on his back and thudded his hand on his heart and the Protea badge. And then he was spent.
Bavuma scooped Sam Curran onto his own stumps three overs later to give England an opening. In the next over, van der Dussen hit Rashid straight to backward point and South Africa seemed to be in some trouble. But their depth came good.
Aiden Markram and Heinrich Klaasen scored 55 runs in 39 balls before Klaasen edged Stone and Buttler took a good catch; Markram went on to score 49 but was bowled by a Rashid googly, leaving it to Miller and Jansen to finish off. They put on 65 in 46 balls, with Miller enhancing his status as a finisher and Jansen his as an allrounder.
Earlier, South Africa made three changes to the attack that won them Friday's series opener and left out Kagiso Rabada, Sisanda Magala and Tabraiz Shamsi for Jansen, Lungi Ngidi and Keshav Maharaj. The bowlers were on top initially, after Bavuma opted to field. Ngidi found early seam movement and made the first incision when he bowled Jason Roy with a delivery that nipped back. At the other end Wayne Parnell pinned Dawid Malan on the back pad to leave England 33 for 2 in the seventh over, and 42 or 2 after 10.
England only began to build some momentum when the change bowlers came on. Brook, who was dismissed for a duck on debut on Friday, showed his class with a high-quality 80 made up of clean-hitting and clever footwork. The highlights of his innings were his ramp off Jansen over the slips for six and the way he took on Maharaj. He scored 19 runs off the 13 balls he faced from Maharaj, including the single that brought him his fifty.
Ben Duckett was largely a spectator and holed out to Maharaj, which brought Buttler to the crease in the 17th over. The England captain played second fiddle to Brook at first, but upped the ante once Brook was out, and England had a platform. They were 161 for 4 after 30 overs, but began to raise the tempo as Moeen got to his first fifty in 64 matches in an over where he hit Anrich Nortje for 14 runs. Nortje got his own back when Moeen dragged him onto his stumps and South Africa could apply the brakes.
They gave away just 21 runs in the next five overs and were squeezing England until Buttler got hold of Ngidi. He hit 22 runs off Ngidi's eighth over, including three sixes, while Curran played the perfect cameo with a 28-ball 17 to give England impetus at the end. In total, England scored 181 runs in their last 20 overs, including 60 in the last four but it was not enough to avert a fifth consecutive defeat in ODIs.