Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Chris Morris’ bowled a highly economical spell, during which he dismissed Sam Billings and Jonny Bairstow, to lead South Africa to a heart-racing three-run win in the second Twenty20 International at Taunton.
Choosing to bowl first, England got an early breakthrough as debutant Tom Curran clean bowled Reeza Hendricks for seven runs.
Mangaliso Mosehle fell shortly after, while Jon-Jon Smuts smashed 45 off 35 balls, which included four boundaries and three sixes, before he was dismissed by Liam Dawson.
David Miller only made eight runs, but South Africa stand-in captain AB de Villiers was on point once again as he hammered a 20-ball 46, which included four boundaries and three sixes.
Even though the Proteas began to lose wickets in a hurry after De Villiers’ departure, Farhaan Behardien’s quickfire 32 enabled them to finish on 174/8 off their 20 overs.
Curran was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, while Liam Plunkett snapped up two, and Dawson, David Willey and Chris Jordan chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing 175 to win, England lost Billings early, but Jason Roy and Bairstow made up for it with a 110-run partnership, during which Roy surpassed his fifty.
Bairstow was within touching distance of his own half-century, but ended up being removed by Morris for 47 off 37 balls, which included eight boundaries and a six.
Roy went on to score 67 off 45 deliveries, which included nine boundaries and a six, before he was given out in controversial circumstances.
Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Roy was struck on the boot when he was running back to the crease after a single had been declined. South Africa appealed for Roy obstructing the field, and the third umpire agreed with the Proteas that Roy deliberately ran in the path of the ball.
With Jos Buttler and captain Eoin Morgan falling not long after, the hosts were left needing 12 runs to win off the final over, which was bowled by Andile Phehlukwayo.
Only three runs came off the first three balls before debutant Liam Livingstone was run out by Morne Morkel for 16 on the fourth ball.
Even though Dawson struck a boundary off the penultimate ball, it was not enough as South Africa escaped with a narrow win.
Morris was the most successful bowler with two wickets, while Phehlukwayo and Dane Paterson claimed one wicket each.
Morgan was gutted to have lost, and said: “Disappointing, given the position we were in but SA bowled well at the end. [Roy dismissal?] I think it’s a 50-50 call, you can see both sides. I think it’s a difficult one. [Buttler in above Morgan] Tactical change, right-hander over a left-hander, didn’t work out.
“[Livingstone] A lot of people are tucked away on debut but we want to see how guys perform, and react in the middle. Tom [Curran] was outstanding, skill level was outstanding, he’s put on a yard, makes his variations harder. He bowled exceptionally. We want to see these guys play, but we also want to win at the same time.”
De Villiers was relieved to have avoided a series defeat, and said: “[You’ve been out obstructing the field] Benoni, I’ll never forget, but to be fair I was a little bit guilty. We were in the right to ask the question and it was up to the umpire, never nice to get out like that. I asked the boys to take it one ball at a time. We had better intent, better energy, good plans.
“[Huddle before innings?] We discussed the wicket, what we felt was a difficult length, change-ups, the bouncer. Then it was about the energy and showing the South African never-say-die attitude. We love the game back home and to see us come out on top means a lot – and now we have a decider on Sunday. [Morgan catch] I saw the church not the ball, so it was quite interesting. [Phehlukwayo final over] I told them to expect big moments, I’m going to throw them in and they delivered.”
Morris was named Man of the Match, and said: “Very happy with today’s performance, we showed fight, been in tough times recently. It’s an honour to play for SA, so very happy. We had to bowl well, but saw how England tied us down at the end, thought we had a chance. In T20 it’s quite easy to lay down and get beaten, so you have to show fight.
“I enjoyed the wicket, not just me, our bowlers bowled well at the death – Dane Paterson in his third game. All-round a great performance. [Cardiff on Sunday] It’s going to be exciting, someone has to lose, try not to be us.”