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England won’t field ‘strongest side’ for third ODI after Durban match rained off

England and South Africa managed 11 overs at Kingsmead Stadium, which was 11 more than seemed likely when Durban was being drenched with violent rainstorms the night before.

By the time the second one-day international was finally called off at 7pm local time this cut-and-paste, pop-up attempt to stage a cricket match had been reduced to 26 overs per innings and then finally abandoned with South Africa on 71 for two under the teeming skies of a rain-sodden city.

The result means England can no longer win the three-match series in South Africa, having lost the first in Cape Town. The forecast for the final game in Johannesburg on Sunday is also stormy.

It promises to be a similarly make-do affair in any case, as Eoin Morgan talked openly after this game about not going out to win the series but instead using it to find out more about his players. “It won’t be about picking the strongest team,” Morgan said.

This seems understandable from an England point of view. But in isolation it is a fairly startling admission at any level of sport and presumably not one that was included in the pre-series marketing. Morgan also spoke about the “great energy” Ben Stokes has been injecting behind the scenes. Which is no doubt a great thing for the England team but not so much for the paying spectators of Kingsmead.

The truncated day made for a frustrating tableau on a white-ball tour that still feels as though it has barely revved out of second gear. England picked an unchanged team in Durban, a chance for those who were easily cuffed aside in Cape Town to reassert their credentials. South Africa brought in the left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin to make his debut in place of Lungi Ngidi, another step in the host nation’s own ongoing rebuild.

England won the toss and bowled on a pitch that was miraculously fit to play despite the torrential gusts of water pouring from the skies before the start. Morgan had spoken about the need to create pressure in the field despite coming here armed with a depleted bowling attack.

England opened up again with Chris Woakes, bowling to two slips in conditions that seemed tailored to his best snaking length with the new ball. His first ball was a zinger that seamed past Quinton de Kock’s outside edge. After which Woakes bowled a little straight to both left- and right-handers.

From the other end Sam Curran began with a 78mph wide and was then pulled and driven to the fence with elegant ease by Reeza Hendricks. Curran is at his most effective bowling with the new ball, England insist. But how effective is that? What level of effectiveness are we talking here?

Joe Root came on first change and almost immediately removed De Kock with a ball that rushed on and drew a half-and-half prod. Root had been grabbing the ball and sprinting back to his mark. Certainly De Kock seemed only half switched on as the ball pinged back his leg stump. “Joe’s an underrated bowler,” Morgan pointed out at the end.

Hendricks played with some fluency at the other end but the rain returned with South Africa on 38 for one after 6.3 overs. Five hours later the players were back out in hope of completing the reduced game. There was a brief sparkle of action. Tom Curran resumed from the Friendship Pavilion end and saw his fourth ball swung high over midwicket for six by Temba Bavuma to the whoops and cheers of a grateful, scattered crowd.

The final act before the players were off again was the dismissal of Bavuma, lbw on review to a ball from Chris Jordan that he tried to pull. Not much has gone emphatically right for England in this series to date. But Jordan has dismissed Bavuma twice in the space of 12 balls, both lbw. After a brief hokey-cokey the rains returned with a vengeance and the day was done. England will hope for a shift of pressure in Johannesburg.

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