London: England beat South Africa by four wickets in their third one-day international at the Oval on Friday, leveling the series at 1-1 and reclaiming the No. 1 ranking it lost to the Proteas earlier in the week.
Eoin Morgan hit 73 and Jonathan Trott added 71 as England finished on 212-6, in reply to South Africa`s 211 all out with 12 balls to spare.
"I enjoy it," Morgan said, after his pivotal 67-ball innings, which included two sixes and seven fours. It also earned him the man-of-the-match award. "I`ve been in the side for quite a while now and I enjoy taking on the reins and responsibility in the middle order.
"Hopefully I`ll continue to make contributions that help us win games."
Robin Peterson had South Africa`s best figures with 2-39, but the hosts seldom looked flustered.
Earlier, England`s James Anderson took 4-44, while paceman Jade Dernbach vindicated his selection ahead of Tim Bresnan with 3-44 as the Proteas` middle order squandered a promising start.
Dernbach`s victims included Hashim Amla — the tourists` top scorer with 43 from 51 balls — and Dean Elgar, the next highest scorer with 42.
Spinner James Tredwell, who replaced the rested Graeme Swann, took 2-49.
"It was a really good bowling performance today," England captain Alastair Cook said. "From 50-1 to restrict them to 210, we fielded better and bowled better and you wouldn`t want to chase too many more on that wicket."
Cook also had a good word to say for his batsmen.
"I thought the way Eoin Morgan played and Jonathan Trott, they were two such very good innings to see us home there," he said. "Jade came in, we wanted a wicket taker and he got some wickets at crucial times for us."
Cook`s opposite number AB de Villiers admitted his side`s total was short.
"I thought it was a good toss to win," he said. "Unfortunately we didn`t take advantage of the conditions. It was a decent wicket to play on, it was definitely not a 210 wicket. We were hoping for something more like 250-odd.
"That`s the big sin, most of our senior players got in and we didn`t make it count, including myself. I played a very poor shot."
South Africa, 1-0 ahead in the series, had won the toss and chose to bat. The visitors raced to 50 without loss before Graeme Smith charged down the wicket and was bowled by Anderson for 18.
Cook said Dernbach had been preferred to Bresnan because the hosts needed to "freshen up" after Tuesday`s 80-run defeat in the second ODI. The seamer revitalized the hosts` attack, claiming the key wicket of Amla who was bowled off an inside edge.
De Villiers made 28 before chipping Tredwell to Ian Bell at deep midwicket and five balls later Faf du Plessis was bowled for 1 by Ravi Bopara, stepping across the line and losing his leg stump.
Elgar was deceived by a slower ball from Dernbach that crashed into his off stump and Wayne Parnell departed in Dernbach`s next over for 13. Having edged successive balls through the slips for four, Parnell`s third consecutive nick went straight to wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter.
JP Duminy misjudged Tredwell`s delivery and was caught at long off by Bell for 33, before Anderson polished off the tail with three wickets in eight balls.
Dale Steyn had made just 1 when Anderson sent his off stump cartwheeling. In Anderson`s next over, Morne Morkel was bowled off his pads for 7.
The innings ended with 20 balls to spare when Lonwabo Tsotsobe was lbw for a golden duck to Anderson`s next delivery.
Bell made a rapid start to the chase but was lbw to Steyn for 12.
Cook gave his wicket away for 20, wafting a Peterson delivery to Elgar at midwicket and Bopara was then given out caught behind off Morkel for 0.
The batsman instantly referred the call but with no conclusive evidence the decision was upheld.
Morgan gradually put England back in control however and cracked the first six of the match when he hit Elgar into the top tier of the stand.
Trott moved to 50, from 86 balls, with a single off Steyn in the 25th over and in the next Morgan reached the same landmark, from 54 balls, with a glanced single off Tsotsobe.
Morgan smashed Tsotsobe for another six over long off before he was caught and bowled by Peterson in the 38th over.
Kieswetter survived an lbw referral and hit Peterson`s next ball for six, though in the 42nd over he was dropped, by both Peterson and du Plessis before he was run out for 14.
By then however England needed only 22 to win and although Trott was caught behind off Parnell, Samit Patel hit the winning run when he flicked Morkel through point.
The fourth ODI of the five-match series is at Lord`s on Sunday.
First Published: Saturday, September 01, 2012, 07:42