London: Samit Patel took five wickets and Andrew Flintoff hit 78 not out to inspire England to a 126-run win, and an unassailable 3-0 series lead, against South Africa at the Oval on Friday.
Flintoff's 77-ball innings and 31 from Patel carried England to 296-7 from 50 overs and South Africa were never up with the rate as they were bowled out for 170 with Patel taking 5-41 to cap a memorable match.
The South African chase flickered only briefly when Albie Morkel hit Patel for two sixes in an over but having planted him into the stands for a second time the batsmen offered a low return catch that Patel took low down.
But the tourists were out of the game by the 30th over of their innings when Mark Boucher was fifth man out with only 114 on the board.
England are now chasing only the second 5-0 series win in their history, with games at Lord's and Cardiff to come, after they triumphed over Zimbabwe by the same margin in 2001-02. A 5-0 series win would put England second in the one-day world rankings.
Flintoff, adding to the 78 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 Patel that took the game away from the South Africans.
His recent form with the bat is another triumph for new captain Kevin Pietersen who has promoted the all-rounder up the order and persuaded Steve Harmison, a crucial figure in this series, out of one-day international retirement.
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 being put in England's Matt 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 Herschelle 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.
Wickets fell steadily and England were 182-5 in the 35th over when Paul Collingwood was out but Flintoff and his tail end partners managed to eke out another 114 from the last 15 overs before Pietersen's bowlers, with Patel to the fore, squeezed the South Africans out of the contest.