South Africa and England played another thriller in their T20 series with the visitors winning this time to level the series 1-1.
There were a handful of brilliant individual performances as South Africa took on England at the Kingsmead cricket ground in Durban on Friday in their second out of the three-match T20 series.
Quinton de Kock broke a record for the fastest 50 by a South African batsman in T20s, reaching his half-century in just 17 balls.
Temba Bavuma, who had partnered De Kock up front to lay a solid foundation for the Proteas, took a magnificent flying catch during the match.
However, it was England’s Moeen Ali who stole the show and ultimately broke the Proteas’ hearts.
The all-rounder came in just as the Proteas started turning the screws on the visitors and he pulverised the South African bowlers to score a blistering 39 runs from just 11 balls.
There was no love lost between Ali and the Proteas bowlers on Valentine’s Day as he bludgeoned them all over the ground. The man of the match ensured that England scored a massive 79 runs off the last five overs of their innings to record a total of 204 for seven.
Ali’s batting was ultimately the biggest difference between the two sides as England levelled the series 1-1 with one game left.
Coming into the match, England retained the same team that had succumbed in the nail-biting first T20 in East London. This meant there was still no place for Dawid Malan, who must’ve been frustrated at this exclusion. The new Yorkshire left-hander scored 103 not out off 51 balls — England’s fastest T20 century of all time — in his most recent match against New Zealand in November 2019.
South Africa, on the other hand, made one change – left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin coming in for Dale Steyn, who became South Africa’s leading T20 wicket-taker in the previous match.
Proteas skipper, Quinton de Kock, won the toss and elected to have his team field first.
The man of the moment, Lungi Ngidi, continued where he left off in the previous game. In the third over, he bowled a few dot balls to build up the pressure and then persuaded Jos Buttler to nick a cross-seam ball into the grateful hands of wicket-keeper De Kock; Buttler’s miserable tour continuing.
Jason Roy, who top-scored with 70 in the previous game, was joined at the crease by Jonny Bairstow.
The pair threatened to take the game away from South Africa early on, putting on a quickfire 52-run partnership for the second wicket. Then, all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo got the breakthrough.
Bairstow, who had just greeted Phehlukwayo with two consecutive sixes, missed a straight one, which went on to uproot his off-stump. The burly batsman was out for 35 off 17 balls.
Then, Tabraiz Shamsi got the prized scalp of Roy for 40 in the 10th over.
The next five overs were ones of frustration for the English. Dwaine Pretorius was brought into the attack and stifled England’s attempt to get going. He was happy to give away singles, but bowled beautifully to ensure no boundaries were taken.
In his third over, he finally went for a six off Ben Stokes. But with the fourth ball of the over, he was rewarded, dismissing English captain Eoin Morgan; and in the process ending a starved partnership (by T20 standards), of 25 runs off 27 balls.
Before England could recover, Joe Denley was heading back out just as quickly as he’d come in. In a fortuitous piece of play, a slower ball by Phehlukwayo deflected off the batter’s glove and onto the stumps.
Then it was the start of the Moeen Ali show – he undid all of the Proteas’ hard work with that devastating 39 off 11 balls, helping the visitors to a formidable total of 204.
The Proteas came out to bat with Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma putting on a 92-run opening partnership.
De Kock in particular was powerful, racing to 50 runs in just 17 balls; breaking a record he’d held jointly with AB de Villiers – the fastest 50 by a South African in T20 internationals.
De Kock was out soon after and was visibly frustrated after being caught by Stokes off a Mark Wood full toss. He was sent packing for 65 off 22 balls.
England got another break to stunt the Proteas onslaught, removing De Kock’s opening partner, Bavuma, which meant the Proteas now had two new batsmen at the crease in the form of David Miller and Rassie van der Dussen.
Miller’s time came to a premature end, however, when he clonked a low full-toss to long-on, bowled by Stokes and caught by Chris Jordan.
Jordan soon joined the party, uprooting the stumps of the South African batsmen a couple of overs later.
First, he took Jon-Jon Smuts’ wicket, then he followed it up with a yummy yorker to send Phehlukwayo back to the changeroom for a duck, leaving the Proteas teetering on 158 for five.
For a moment it looked like Pretorius and Van der Dussen would drag South Africa over the line, but some economic bowling from Jordan at the tail end of the innings saved a few runs for the English.
Jordan’s clever bowling proved vital as England ultimately clinched the match by two runs. This after they had removed the valiant Pretorius, whose 44-run partnership with Van der Dussen almost clinched the series for the Proteas.
The English sealed the match with the last ball, getting the wicket of Bjorn Fortuin to see South Africa ending with 202 for seven in their 20 overs.
As it stands, the series is evenly poised with the last match of England’s tour of South Africa taking place at Supersport Park in Centurion on Sunday, 16 February 2020. DM
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