Tom Sizeland reflects on the players and moments that shaped the second T20I between South Africa and England at the Wanderers on Sunday.
BATSMAN OF THE DAY
For all of the hype surrounding AB de Villiers’ knock, this accolade deserves to be shared. De Villiers’ knock was breathtaking from ball one. He trusted the pace and bounce of the wicket and obliterated the English bowlers with the fastest T20 fifty by a South African. Amla took a while to get going, but this was hands down his best performance in this format. Not only did he go past his previous best, but it can be argued that he had to perform in order to keep his place, with Quinton de Kock competing for his opening spot. He duly obliged in clinical fashion.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Should I go with one of Amla’s countless strokes to the boundary along the ground, or one of AB’s brutal sixes? Let’s go with AB. The third of his six sixes was the best. Charging down the wicket, Chris Jordan bowled it short, but he was still able to swat it high over the deep square leg boundary.
BOWLER OF THE DAY
Kagiso Rabada was excellent with the new ball and Imran Tahir deserved to be Man of the Series for his attacking threat in the middle of the innings in both matches, but Kyle Abbott was the man responsible for England’s last seven wickets falling for 14 runs. He bowled well up front without reward, but he claimed the wickets of Buttler, Sam Billings and Jordan at the business end of the innings to prevent England from posting a 200-plus total.
DELIVERY OF THE DAY
What do you do with your next delivery when you smack someone on the helmet? Bowl it full and on the stumps. Rabada invited a shaken-up Roy to play a big shot, only for it to smash on to the sticks. Rabada set that wicket up with some excellent bowling leading up to it, which put all the pressure on Roy to play the big shot.
CATCH OF THE DAY
A bit of deja-vu for Duminy? He dropped a sitter in Cape Town, before taking a brilliant catch in the deep, Rabada rugby tackle and all. He drops a straight-forward chance with the first delivery in Joburg, befoe taking a fine running catch to see off Moeen Ali.
Not only does this series victory bode well ahead of the series against Australia, it’s also two victories in a row against a side they’re going to face in the group stages of the World T20. They know they have the upper hand over England in this format now, and that will give them plenty of belief when they play them again in their tournament opener on March 18.
AB THE OPENER
There’s no doubt now that De Villiers will open the batting in T20s in the foreseeable future. He’s the best batsman in the country, so get him in straight away. It’s only 20 overs after all. It’s not always going to come off, but when it does, South Africa will win. In the post-match interview he said he enjoys opening in this format. A happy De Villiers means a happy South Africa.
AMLA OR DE KOCK? OR BOTH?
So who joins De Villiers at the top of the order? It’s difficult to leave out Amla now after that performance, but De Kock will be fit and raring to go against Australia. Is there space for him in the team? My feeling is yes, there is. Leave De Villiers and Amla at the top, but fit De Kock in somewhere else, because you want your best batsmen playing, irrespective of the position in the batting order.