The Proteas completed a dramatic three-run victory over England to draw level in the three-match T20 series on Friday.
England won the toss in a match where a win would see them complete a T20I series win over the Proteas. This was undoubtedly in an effort to expose the batting frailties South Africa experienced in the opening match.
JJ Smuts laid a good foundation for the Proteas, rebounding from a duck in his previous outing to lead his side past the halfway mark in the innings, with 45. His useful contribution came to an end just five runs short of what would have been a good half-century. A batting blitz by captain AB de Villiers in the middle overs put the Proteas in a position of strength, before he fell for a 20-ball 46 (four fours, three sixes).
Farhaan Behardien lifted his side in the latter stages of the innings with 32 as South Africa posted 174-8.
England’s reply got off to a lightning-fast start. Despite the early wicket of Sam Billings for three, Jason Roy put the Proteas bowlers under early pressure. He didn’t allow Chris Morris or Morne Morkel to settle, powering his team to 31-1 after three overs.
Together he and Jonny Bairstow guided England past fifty at the end of the first Powerplay. Bairstow brought up the pair’s 50-run stand with a boundary off Andile Phehlukwayo in the eighth over.
England continued to flay the Proteas bowlers, reaching 92-1 at the halfway mark. Jason Roy’s 33-ball fifty coincided with England reaching the three-figure mark. South Africa were in desperate need of a wicket. When the century stand was brought up in the 14th over, victory seemed all but assured.
South Africa finally made a breakthrough, courtesy of Morris, Bairstow falling an agonising three runs short of a half-century.
When Jason Roy was adjudged to have obstructed a run-out chance, the Proteas were given a glimmer of hope.
England continued to edge closer to the target. When Phehlukwayo sent Jos Buttler on his way for 10, however, there was everything to play for, with two overs remaining, the equation being 21 runs required for victory.
A fantastic penultimate over from Dane Paterson, highlighted by the wicket of Eoin Morgan off the second-last ball, meant the game would go down to the wire, 12 required off the final over.
Phehlukwayo’s tactics in the final over were exemplary, using wide yorkers to great effect. There was not much the England batsmen could do, as they fell just three runs short of victory.
The stage is set for a terrific final match of the series in Cardiff on Sunday.
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