Andrew Flintoff hit 78 not out and Ian Bell 73 as England made 296-7 from 50 overs in the first innings of the third one-day international against South Africa at the Oval on Friday.
Flintoff, adding to the 70 he made in the first game at Headingley, and relishing his role at number five put on a free-scoring partnership of 74 for the sixth wicket with Samit Patel, who made 31.
Flintoff survived a nasty blow to his temple on 38 when he was late on pulling a Morne Morkel bouncer but recovered to hit nine fours and a six. The pick of the South African bowlers was Johan Botha who took 2-35 from nine overs with his spin.
After losing the toss Matt Prior and Bell got England off to a solid start by putting on 101 for the first wicket in 16 overs but a steady procession of wickets in the middle overs prevented England from getting away and slowed the run rate before Flintoff and Patel came together.
Prior played and missed during the early overs but found his range when he clubbed 14 runs off Makhaya Ntini's second over including a six over long on from a free hit.
Ntini's first five overs disappeared for 47 but stand-in captain Jacques Kallis forced a breakthrough when Morne Morkel had Prior caught off a top edged pull that Her schelle Gibbs ran round to catch.
Ntini looked a tired bowler at the end of a long tour as he conceded 68 runs in nine overs.
Bell, looking for a second one-day international hundred, had a close shave when he was nearly run out on 73 but fell without adding another run when he was leg before to Johan Botha trying to turn the ball to midwicket.
Owais Shah passed 1,000 runs in one-day internationals but failed to go on again in this series when he was bowled by one from Kallis that nipped back slightly and went between bat and pad.
Kevin Pietersen failed with the bat, to the groans of the crowd, when he was leg before to Kallis for five, the ball hitting him on the back leg, and Paul Collingwood made just 14 before the ball popped up off his thigh and Mark Boucher took the catch.
Luke Wright made a useful 17 off 13 balls before he was caught in the deep during the last over.
South African captain Graeme Smith will miss the rest of the tour with an elbow injury and his opening spot was taken by Hashim Amla.