Despite 65 from AB de Villiers, England picked off the Proteas’ 142-3 with 5.3 overs to spare, to go 1-0 up in the three-match T20 series.
The T20 series was supposed to bring a bit of relief to AB de Villiers’ side after their group-stage capitulation in the Champions Trophy, but it was another laboured performance from the South Africans, who put in their worst shift on this tour of the UK.
The players who play all three formats have been rested for this series, and there were two debutants in Tabraiz Shamsi and Dwaine Pretorius, but England adopted a similar approach too. The selection of this South African side, especially in the bowling department, has to come under scrutiny, with Wayne Parnell (0-26 from two), who endured another wayward spell, the only bowler capable of hitting the deck.
Considering that the visitors put only 142 runs on the board, it’s strange that they only lost three wickets. At first it looked like a difficult surface to bat on, but England made it look simple. South Africa’s fielding left much to be desired too, with some ominous boundary patrolling and a simple dropped catch from Farhaan Behardien.
Mark Wood and David Willey both struck with the first ball of their new-ball spells, as JJ Smuts was bowled for a golden duck, before Reeza Hendricks slapped one straight to mid-wicket for three. David Miller could only score nine, as Wood (2-36) had a second just five overs in.
The rest was left up to De Villiers and Behardien, who struggled to time the ball, thanks to some controlled spells of spin and some clever fast bowling. They were labouring along at six an over throughout, and while they both scored fifties and brought up a record fourth-wicket stand, they only got going with two overs left.
Twenty-six runs were scored off those last two overs as they scrambled to 142-3, with De Villiers remaining unbeaten on 65 off 58, and Behardien on 64 off 52.
It looked like a near-impossible target to defend very early on, as the out-of-form Jason Roy was brought immediately back into form thanks to some gift deliveries from Parnell. Four fours and a six came off Parnell’s second over, 23 runs in all, as England were sitting happily on 45-0 off four overs.
Andile Phehlukwayo struck with the first ball of his spell as he trapped Roy lbw attempting a reverse paddle shot, but he’d inflicted enough damage, walking back for 28 off 14.
That was as good as it got for the Proteas. Bairstow looked in good touch from ball one, while Alex Hales was able to measure himself and watch from the other end. Not even Imran Tahir could get on top of the batsmen, as he went for 37 off his three overs. Bairstow struck two sixes and six fours for his 35-ball 60, while Hales remained unbeaten on 47 off 38.
The target was picked off with 5.3 overs remaining, as the Proteas’ disaster tour continues. They have two days to regroup as they head to Taunton for the second T20, with the series now on the line.
Photo: Steve Bardens/Gallo Images