Fourth one-day international, Lord's: England 137-3 (17.4 ovs) bt South Africa 183-6 (32.1 ovs) by seven wickets (Target: 137 from 20 overs)
By Jamie Lillywhite
Flintoff lit up the gloom of early autumn with some magnificent hitting
England made it four wins from four in the one-day series against South Africa with a seven-wicket win at Lord's.
The match was cut to 33 overs after rain delays, but Herschelle Gibbs and Hashim Amla fired 66 from 55 balls.
Gibbs hit 74 from 75 balls and Andrew Flintoff took 3-21 but rain ended South Africa's innings on 183-6 after 32.1.
Chasing a revised 137 from 20 overs, Owais Shah made 43 and Flintoff struck one six for 31 from 12 balls as England won with 14 deliveries to spare.
The Twenty20 match between the teams was abandoned at Durham, but England effectively faced that scenario with their 120-ball innings.
Although the average Twenty20 domestic score at Lord's was 159, it was not a particularly enticing prospect in gloomy light, facing bowlers in excess of 90mph.
It was in England interests to play on, as a 5-0 whitewash in the series will take them above South Africa into second in the world rankings.
The batting order remained the same but Ian Bell and Matt Prior seemed to panic, Prior trying to give himself room and edging for nought in the second over.
It was not until the fifth over that Bell hit the first boundary, but immediately afterwards he got a thick edge to the keeper.
Even Shah and Kevin Pietersen initially found it difficult to get their timing as 101 were needed from 12.
Gibbs gave South Africa a fine start with some superb strokeplay
But the captain then swiped three successive fours off Jacques Kallis and Shah brought up the fifty partnership from 39 balls with a 90m six as Kallis conceded 20 from his over.
Pietersen helped reduce the requirement to 44 from 38 before he mis-cued to deep mid-wicket, but Flintoff somehow hit some more awesome shots as England achieved a relatively comfortable win in near darkness, despite some regrettable delaying tactics from the South Africans.
The early morning conditions across the south-east had an end of the world air about them, with sombre, dark clouds.
South Africa, crushed by 10 wickets at Trent Bridge and 126 runs in the last game at The Oval must have felt similarly despondent after losing the toss.
Pietersen had no hesitation in bowling first given the moisture around and the prospect of further interruptions.
But James Anderson and Stuart Broad sent down some loose early deliveries and Gibbs and Amla took full advantage in a strong start by the tourists.
After six overs with the score at 37-0 there was a 49-minute delay, after which Pietersen brought Steve Harmison into the attack.
Harmison looked more like the bowler who previously struggled with the white ball, offering too much width as the stylish Amla carved him away for four boundaries in an over.
Faced with the first difficulties of a magical start to his reign at 66-0, Pietersen was happy to be able to turn to Flintoff, and his all-rounder duly made the breakthrough, albeit not in the customary manner.
Gibbs pushed for a single but Amla was unsure of the run and as both batsmen found themselves at the non-striker's end, Shah was alert with a direct hit to the opposite set of timbers from mid-on.
It was the fourth run-out the South Africans have suffered in the series, and two overs later acting captain Jacques Kallis saw his miserable run continue when he was dismissed for one by the imperious Flintoff, who took 1-8 from his first spell of four overs.
Kallis stood his ground and appeared incensed when given out by the third umpire, but there appeared little doubt either that he had edged in flat-footed fashion or that the ball had carried through low to Prior.
AB de Villiers played a curiously disjointed innings and Samit Patel was rewarded for some tight slow left-arm as he holed out to the impenetrable hands of Flintoff at deep mid-wicket.
JP Duminy dented his figures somewhat, launching a straight six and then adopting a Pietersen-style switch hit for four more.
He shared 42 in as many balls with Gibbs before failing to control Flintoff's bouncer and top-edging a hook to mid-wicket.
Gibbs departed in the next over, the 29th, moving across his stumps to try to glance Broad, but edging onto his pad and then the stumps.
The South Africans were able to add 25 in 3.5 overs, Flintoff collecting his third wicket when Vernon Philander sliced to long-off, but although the umpires were keen to complete the innings, the rain was too heavy and the innings had to end five balls before it was due to.
That might well have been the end of proceedings, but the space age Lord's drainage gave the crowd some superb late evening entertainment and kept England's dream alive.
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