England almost looked down and out at one stage but Jonny Bairstow refused to give up and hammered Beuran Hendricks for 28 runs in an over that turned the first Twenty20 International in his team's favour. The 31-year-old smoked a 48-ball 86*, studded with nine fours and four sixes, to propel the visiting side to an outstanding five-wicket victory over South Africa at Newlands, Cape Town on Friday (November 27).
Asked to bat, South Africa posted a competitive total of 179/6 in their 20 overs on the back of Faf du Plessis' 40-ball 58. He found good support from other batsmen who chipped in with decent cameos, but were later blown away by Bairstow in the second innings. England lost three wickets inside six overs and Bairstow walked in to bat at No. 4 and took the game away from South Africa. England needed 51 off four overs but managed to get the job done with four deliveries to spare.
DU PLESSIS CONTINUES HIS GOOD FORM
It was Temba Bavuma (5) who got the nod ahead of Reeza Hendricks and Janneman Malan but the 30-year-old threw his wicket away in the very first over. The right-hander tried to scoop Sam Curran but ended up gloving it to the wicketkeeper. Quinton de Kock and du Plessis are the backbones of the South African batting line-up and Eoin Morgan unleashed Jofra Archer on them in the powerplay.
De Kock and du Plessis took a couple of overs before opening their shoulders against Archer and Tom Curran. It was the wicketkeeper-batsman who went after Archer in the fourth over and slammed him for a majestic six over deep square leg. Du Plessis then wreaked havoc in the next over and smoked Tom Curran for 24 runs. The former skipper targetted the leg-side boundary and blasted him for two sixes and as many fours. The two kept the attack going as South Africa raced to 56/1 by the end of six overs.
With de Kock and du Plessis going all guns blazing, Morgan needed someone to slow things down and straightaway introduced Adil Rashid after the powerplay. The legspinner didn't concede a single boundary in his first two overs and managed to keep both the batsmen in check. South Africa managed 21 in the next three overs and de Kock tried to compensate for it by going after Chris Jordan but ended up losing his wicket. The left-hander scored 30 off 23 before mistiming one straight to the fielder at short cover.
Du Plessis, who was Chennai Super Kings' leading run scorer in the recently concluded Indian Premier League, continued to put pressure on England and brought up his ninth T20I fifty off 33 deliveries. The right-hander was scoring boundaries at regular intervals but was also brilliant with the strike rotation. It was Rashid who bowled with great control in the middle overs and gave away only 27 runs in his four overs. The onus was on du Plessis to cut loose in the final few overs but the 36-year-old couldn't carry on and became Sam Curran's second victim. Du Plessis crafted 58 off 40 before being caught at deep square leg in the 14th over.
The surface was starting to slow down but Heinrich Klaasen and Rassie van der Dussen kept the momentum going. The two ran hard between the wickets and hit at least one boundary every over. Sam Curran also got rid of the dangerous-looking Klaasen (12-ball 20) and finished with figures of 3/28. The home team were in desperate need of a late flourish and it was van der Dussen who did the job for them, to an extent. The right-hander smoked three sixes in his 28-ball 37 before falling to Archer in the penultimate over.
Tom Curran didn't have a great day and suffered a severe beating at the hands of almost every South African batsman. The right-arm paceman leaked 16 in the final over, with debutant George Linde (6-ball 12) smashing him for a couple of boundaries. Tom Curran did get a consolation wicket on the final ball but finished with figures of 1/55 - his most expensive spell in T20Is.
BAIRSTOW SAVES THE DAY FOR ENGLAND
The surface was holding up and de Kock gave the first over to Linde. The left-arm spinner didn't take much time to get his maiden T20I wicket as he managed to induce an edge off Jason Roy's willow before the opener could open his account. Roy tried to cut Linde but was undone by a decent amount of turn. Coming in at No. 3, the top-ranked T20I batsman Dawid Malan looked in good touch but kept hitting it straight to the fielders.
The left-hander got his first boundary in the third over and then followed it up with two more off Kagiso Rabada through the off-side. Meanwhile, Jos Buttler didn't get much strike in the first four overs. Having faced only five deliveries, the wicketkeeper-batsman tried to tee off but fell to Lungi Ngidi for just 7. Before the dust had settled, England also lost Malan for 19 and were reduced to 34/3 at the end of six overs. It was Linde who was brought back to bowl the final over of the powerplay and the left-arm spinner got his second wicket as Malan swept one straight into the hands of Rabada at square leg.
Linde and Tabraiz Shamsi were running away with their overs and the required run-rate soon went over 11. Bairstow and Ben Stokes took some time to settle in before finally breaking the shackles in the ninth over. After Bairstow tonked Shamsi for consecutive sixes, Stokes slammed Linde for his first maximum and got some momentum into his innings. The two never looked back from there on and took the attack to every South African bowler.
A total of six maximums and two fours were smashed in the space of five overs and that put South Africa under pressure. The two smacked most of their boundaries through the on-side and got the required run-rate under control. In the process, Bairstow completed his fifty off just 30 deliveries and just when it looked like the two would kill the game, Shamsi got rid of Stokes and broke the 85-run partnership. The flamboyant all-rounder hit 37 off 27 before hitting one straight to the fielder at long-on.
HENDRICKS LETS THE GAME SLIP AWAY
With 58 needed off 30 deliveries, the onus was on Bairstow and Eoin Morgan to lead England home, but they were up against in-form Rabada who gave away just six runs in the 16th over. Beuran Hendricks however released all the pressure in the next over by conceding 28 runs. The left-arm seamer was hit for a six, three fours and also gave away eight runs in extras. England then just needed 23 in their final three overs.
Morgan departed for a 10-ball 12 as Ngidi bowled a superb over to keep South Africa in the game. The right-arm paceman mixed up his pace perfectly and gave away only five singles, including a leg bye. Rabada then started well but just when the things were starting to get tensed, Sam Curran clobbered a six down the ground to leave seven runs for the final over. Bairstow then hit the first two deliveries for a four and a six respectively and gave England a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.