T20 series goes down to the wire after England edge Proteas in Durban

By Zaahier Adams Time of article published Feb 14, 2020

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England: 204/7 (Roy 40, Stokes 47*, Ali 39, Ngidi 3/48)

South Africa202/6 (De Kock 65, Van der Dussen 43, Jordan 2/31)

England won by 2 runs

CAPE TOWN - Don't take you eyes off the action in this pulsating T20I series for England and South Africa are producing high-value entertainment every night. 

Buffalo Park on Wednesday evening was a thriller. Kingsmead matched it for drama in every way. The only difference being this time it was England that snuck home by only two runs.

At the halfway stage South Africa needed to complete a record chase if they were to come out on top. Tom Curran ensured the hosts fell just short by holding his nerve by defending 15 runs off the final six deliveries that ultimately became three off the final ball.

Curran certainly needs to be lauded for his bravery. Proteas all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius’ role in the T20I team had been questioned after the East London victory after he failed to bowl a single delivery.

But last night he showed his value with the bat as he blasted Curran for a six and a boundary in the final over to take the Proteas to the brink of a famous victory. But that’s when Curran proved ice runs through his veins by firstly trapping Pretorius LBW with a pin-point yorker, before having the gumption to send down a back-of-the-hand slower ball to new batsman Bjorn Fortuin. 

The tailender cheekishly attempted a lap shot, but only managed to find Adil Rashid at short fine-leg and the fairytale ending was crushed.

South Africa had been given the perfect start to their chase by captain Quinton de Kock. The skipper had seemingly left his team in the pound seats following a blitz that contained eight sixes and two fours. In the process, De Kock raced to the fastest half-century by a Proteas batsman in T20Is off only 17 balls. It eclipsed his own record of 21 balls that he shared with AB de Villiers.

Again De Kock had his lieutenant Temba Bavuma by his side with South Africa’s new opening pair fast developing into a potent T20I opening partnership. The duo compliments each other perfectly. De Kock terrorises the bowlers through his sheer power and destructive force, while Bavuma’s precision placement and speed between the wickets adds a different dimension.

By the time they were separated when De Kock held out to Ben Stokes on the square-leg boundary, South Africa had already posted 92 off just 47 balls.

South Africa tried to stay with the rate by firstly promoting David Miller (21 off 16 balls) to No 3 before Rassie van der Dussen (43 not out off 26 balls) kept the home team’s hopes alive to the very end.

But ultimately it was South Africa’s own death bowling that let them down on the night. The Proteas defended 44 runs in the last five overs in East London. Last night, they conceded 79 off the same amount of deliveries as the radar went awry.

Ben Stokes (47 not out off 30 balls; 4x4, 2x6) started the party, but it was Moeen Ali that did the real damage. Having been part of the chaos that unfolded in the last over at Buffalo Park, Ali came out guns blazing.

The dashing left-hander smoked 39 off only 11 balls (3x4, 4x6) that helped England set up a record chase at the Durban ground. It was the perfect ending to an innings that had once again been set up by Jason Roy (40 off 29 balls) and Jonny Bairstow (35 off 17 balls).

The pair, who are now separated by Jos Buttler, blasted a 52-run partnership for the second wicket off just 25 balls.     

The series is tied up at 1-1 heading into the decider at Centurion. If the last two matches are anything to go by, then another humdinger is on the cards.

@ZaahierAdams IOL

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