fast little loans
England 118/7 (20 overs)
South Africa 119/3 (19 overs)
SA win by seven wickets
This may be north-east England and heat in these parts is much gentler than what would be found in Sri Lanka, but the pitch here at the Riverside Stadium shared lots of similarities with what these two sides may find in the sub-continent in a few weeks’ time.
The surface was slow and it spun just like Johan Botha thought it would.
In terms of adapting to those conditions, South Africa clearly did the better job in this first of three Twenty20 Internationals against England.
AB de Villiers once again pulled off his mix-and-match approach with the bowling. Halfway through the England innings he’d already utilised six bowlers.
Despite the nature of the surface, he didn’t use Faf du Plessis’ leg-spin nor JP Duminy’s offies, while Lonwabo Tsotsobe only bowled two overs.
Such are the options available to De Villiers – Jacques Kallis added to that depth on Saturday – and his willingness to use them, that South Africa will feel good about their chances in Sri Lanka.
They looked good here especially with the ball, much like they were at Trent Bridge in the final ODI on Wednesday.
Again De Villiers gave Robin Peterson the new ball, though he wasn’t successful like in Nottingham.
Never mind, England gave the tourists some help, with Alex Hales running himself out going for a single that was never on, after he and Craig Kieswetter had put on 27 in three overs.
Ravi Bopara – not surprisingly – didn’t last long, and then it was largely a steady procession from the England players, with Botha (2/19), Peterson (2/27) and Albie Morkel (1/12) all taking wickets.
However, Dale Steyn, again, was outstanding. He showed pace, lots of variation with slower balls, and there were some outswingers that you’d see from him in Tests.
It was all too much for the English and Steyn finished with figures of 1/13 from four overs.
South Africa’s chase started poorly, and they found themselves 29/3 after four overs. Richard Levi, who opened with Jacques Kallis, biffed two fours but then fell to a clearly designed plan from the English that involved bowling short outside off-stump, and one such delivery Levi guided to slip where Graeme Swann took a simple catch.
Faf du Plessis’s horrendous tour continued. He was trapped lbw by Steve Finn for just four yesterday and with a top score of just 22 in the One-Day Internationals, he is in the kind of poor form that will put his place under some scrutiny ahead of the World T20.
It’s clear De Villiers wants him to succeed – which is why he threw him up to No3 – and he will be given, along with Justin Ontong, more opportunities in this series to locate that form.
Du Plessis must be very envious of Kallis, who, having spent 10 days in New York, including taking in a New York Yankees baseball game, looked very unflustered as he and JP Duminy put on 90, to initially settle the innings and then win the match for South Africa.
Duminy played beautifully for his 47, and, like Kallis, looked in total control making 47 off 54 balls with four boundaries. Kallis ended unbeaten on 48 off 44 balls with seven boundaries.
This was a confidence-boosting win for the South Africans, with the victory giving them extra room to do some more tinkering in the next few matches ahead of the World T20 Championships.
England are missing Kevin Pietersen, and without him, they may yet win this series, but they won’t defend their T20 title.
The next match is at Old Trafford on Monday. – Sunday Independent