Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Dawid Malan had a debut to remember as he hammered a breathtaking 78 to lead England to a 19-run win over South Africa in the third Twenty20 International in Cardiff.
Opting to bowl first, South Africa struck early as Morne Morkel had England opener Jason Roy caught behind for eight runs.
Malan and Alex Hales made up for the loss of Roy as they put together a 105-run partnership, during which Malan sailed past his fifty.
With England cruising, the Proteas began their fightback when Adile Phehlukwayo dismissed Hales for 36.
Malan went on to make a career-best 78 off 44 balls, which included 12 boundaries and two sixes, before he was removed by Imran Tahir.
Image courtesy of: Zimbio
England began to lose wickets in a hurry after Malan’s departure, courtesy of Dane Paterson, who sliced through the middle order and bowled superbly at the death.
However, stand-in captain Jos Buttler clubbed a quickfire 31 to help England finish on 181/8 off their 20 overs.
Paterson was the pick of the bowlers with four wickets, while Phehlukwayo snapped up two, and Morkel and Tahir chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing 182 to win, South Africa lost opener Reeza Hendricks and Chris Morris early on.
Just as the Proteas were beginning to recover, Jon-Jon Smuts was sent packing by Liam Plunkett for 29.
With stand-in captain AB de Villiers, David Miller and Farhaan Behardien falling shortly after, the tourists were in all kinds of trouble as they were reduced to 91/6 in the 14th over.
However, Mangaliso Mosehle and Phehlukwayo offered South Africa a glimmer of hope when they amassed a 54-run stand before Mosehle was dismissed by Tom Curran for 36.
Even though Phehlukwayo ended up making an unbeaten 27, it was not enough to get South Africa across the finish line.
Chris Jordan was the most successful bowler with three wickets, while Curran took two, and Plunkett and Mason Crane claimed one wicket each.
De Villiers was gutted to have lost the match, and said: “I think so, it’s probably true they played better cricket throughout the series so credit to them. We slipped up a little bit with a couple of mistakes in the field … but we finished really well and Paterson put in an amazing spell of bowling.
“I thought Liam Plunkett and the seamers bowled really well, hitting the middle of the pitch. We were only 19 tuns short, and their seamers bowled well so it was tough. [Targeting Crane?] I was always going to go and I was waiting for his next over as well, so well bowled to him and well played. He was always going to be the guy to go after and I thought he handled it well.”
Buttler was thrilled to have won the series, and said: “I thought we had a really good score, Dawid batted on a different wicket, made it look really good on debut. We thought it was a good score, played here a lot recently and know the dimensions. Credit to the guys doing the bowling, they captained themselves.
“Everybody’s got to produce, Liam Plunkett showed why he’s been so consistent. The pitch had a bit of variation in it, the guys bowled well and are really happy. All the best teams have very good players missing out, with injuries, and with guys coming in, there is pressure on you, feel like you need to perform and it was a fantastic show of character from Dawid Malan.”
Malan was named Man of the Match, and said: “It has [been worth the wait]. I didn’t think it would ever come but nice to show what I can do. It’s tough but you try and keep things in perspective and wait for an opportunity. [Easy to settle in?] The first few balls I wasn’t, when the nerves have gone it’s a lot easier but to play for your country is a fantastic achievement. It was a pretty good score, tough to score when they bowled their variations. I’ve only played one game, especially with the guys we’ve got – hopefully they rest a few in the next game as well!”