Lee scored 117 runs in 107 balls, her new career best to become the first Proteas woman to score an ODI century against England.
It was the for the first time that three players scored hundreds in the same women’s ODI as Tammy Beaumont and Sarah Taylor also hit 101(109) and 118 (106) respectively.
South Africa won the toss and were immediately made to rue their decision to bowl first as England’s opening pair of Amy Jones and Beaumont got the home side off to a flying start reaching 51-0 in just 9 overs.
It was Shabnim Ismail who got the breakthrough for the visitors as she had Jones (29) caught by Laura Wolvaardt at midwicket after attempting a pull but Beaumont found a capable replacement in Taylor as they combined for a brilliant 156-run partnership to put England in a commanding position.
On her way to her fourth ODI century and second versus the Proteas Beaumont hit three fours in a row but the England opener was lucky not to have been given out Ibw in the 19th over when she didn’t pick the flight of the ball but surprisingly there was no appeal whatsoever from Raisibe Ntozakhe despite the ball showing to be going on to be hitting the stumps.
A couple of balls later, Ayabonga Khaka broke the partnership when she bowled a slow ball that deceived Beaumont hitting the ball up in the sky which was superbly caught by Dane van Niekerk at mid-on. Nat Sciver (6) didn’t stay long as she was Khaka’s next victim for six.
Wickets started tumbling as Marizanne Kapp also got into the mix when she sent Heather Knight packing for 24. Taylor continued to score runs with ease as she brought up her seventh ODI century, and third against the tourists in 43th over but Ismail removed her for 118.
Danni Wyatt hit 20 of 11 balls falling to the last ball of the innings thanks to a brilliant catch by Mignon du Preez as England finished on 331/6. The Proteas fearsome trio had a horrible day with the likes of Khaka finishing with figures of 2/72 and Shabnim Ismail 2/78 with Kapp the only member of the trio that really kept it tight with (2/48).
Chasing 332 for victory, the visitors' start was slow but steady start as they Lee and Wolvaardt only managed to score 32 runs in the opening 10 overs. Big-hitting Lee started to find the middle of the bat as she raced to her second ODI century in 91 balls after the halfway mark with the Proteas on 140/0
On the other end, Wolvaardt struggled to rotate the rate regularly. The 19-year-old opener tried to hit one out of the park of the bowling of Katherine Brunt but picked out Jones in the deep for 32 in 62 balls. Sune Luus (2) was sent in next to try and up the run rate but she was caught in the 28th over.
England attack kept bowling well, as a result, they finally got the big wicket of Lee (117) as she hit a short ball from Georgia Elwiss towards backward point with Wyatt taking the catch.
Van Niekerk (9) followed five balls later as she skied the ball to Elwiss at mid-on with the Proteas still needing 160 runs off 16.5 overs. The run rate was up to 10 runs per over as in the 37th over, power hitter Chloe Tryon began to go big and was firing on all cylinders.
Mignon Du Preez (12) tried to go over mid-on only to be caught by Elwiss of the bowling of Ecclestone. Tryon tried to keep up with the rate but her breath-taking cameo of 44 in 26 balls came to an end when she was caught by Wyatt of Ecclestone’s bowling.
Stacey Lackay (0), Ismail (3) and Khaka (1) all fell in quick succession as the Proteas from 142-0 ended on 262-9 after their 50 overs. Lee and Tryon scored 161 off 133 at 7.26 per over while the rest of South Africa only managed 91 off 167 at 3.27 per over.
The England left-arm spinner Ecclestone was the pick of the bowlers as she finished with figures of 3-54. Brunt and Laura Marsh got two wickets each.
The deciding match of the series is on Friday. Play will start at 14:00 local time with the match broadcast live on SuperSport at 15:00 (CAT) and Sky Sports at 14:00 (BST).