After squaring off the ODI series, the focus shifted towards the last leg of England’s tour of South Africa for the much-important T20I series. The first of the 3-match T20I series was scheduled to be played at Buffalo Park in East London.
It was a great start to the series as the home team came up trumps in an edge of a seat thriller contest between the two sides. Earlier in the evening, England skipper Eoin Morgan won the toss and opted to bowl first. The decision seem to have back-fired early as the Proteas’ openers got off to a blistering start.
The skipper Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma decimated the English bowlers in the first power play with 68 runs in the first six overs. However, de Kock departed after scoring 31 runs off 15 balls but his partner continued to strike heavy blows even after his dismissal.
After a strong start at the top, South Africa lost their way around 10th over mark. Bavuma and Van der Dussen fell in quick succession to apply brakes on South Africa’s scoring rate.
The bowlers pulled off things nicely and restricted the hosts to a chasable score of 177, when at one point 200 looked gettable.
Chasing 178, England opener Jason Roy made his intentions clear to go after the bowlers from the ball one. The tourists made some changes in their batting order as Jos Buttler was promoted to open with Bairstow pushed to the no.3 spot. The move didn’t pay enough dividends even after Roy’s swashbuckling 70-run knock in just 38 balls.
Just like South Africa, England’s chase also met a same pattern when they failed to accelerate in the middle-overs. The dismissal of Ben Stokes arrived at a poorest time for England as they lost the way at the end. With all set batsmen out in the pavilion, they even failed to score 7 runs of as many deliveries in the end.
Lungi Ngidi was the star performer for the hosts as he was able to defend seven in his final over. Dale Steyn, a man on the comeback trail, had a decent outing with the ball, finishing with figures of 1/33. For his extraordinary last over, Ngidi, was awarded the ‘Man of the Match’. He finished a great bowling spell with figures of 3/30 in his four overs.
With a 1-0 lead in the series, South Africa now have an edge going into the second T20I on February 14th at Kingsmead in Durban.
Cover picture credits: India Today