All-rounder Chris Woakes rued England's inability to take wickets in important phases of the first ODI against SA as they slid to a seven-wicket defeat on Tuesday, 4 February.
After England openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow started strong with a 51-run opening stand, their middle order wobbled as they kept losing wickets at regular intervals. They were stuttering at 131/6 when Joe Denly (87 from 103) and Woakes (40 from 42) rescued them to a par total of 258/8 with a crucial 91-run association.
"It was a respectable total," Woakes said after the match. "It wasn't, by any means, a great score. But it was something that we could bowl at. If we took wickets at important times, we could have put some pressure on them. It could have been a half-decent score. But we weren't able to take those wickets. And that partnership between Temba (Bavuma) and Quinton (de Kock) was pretty good and hard to break, and that won them the game."
While chasing, de Kock, South Africa's new ODI skipper, played with grit to notch up his 14th century in the format. Bavuma, meanwhile, fell just two short of his hundred. The duo stitched a 173-run partnership for the second wicket, helping the hosts chase the target in 47.4 overs.
Woakes was all praise of de Kock, and added that England needed to find a way to get him out early in the remaining matches.
"He is a world-class player," Woakes said. "Obviously, with him being the captain now, there is that side of his game where he wants to see his team over the line, which might give him that extra motivation to play even better, which is going to be tough for us, because we have to find ways to get him out.
"I'm fortunate to have played with him in the IPL as well and he is a world-class player. We have to figure out how to stop him from scoring runs. He is obviously a big, big player for them. We have to try and get him out early."
The second of the three ODIs will be played in Durban on Friday, 7 February.
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