Jonny Bairstow’s magnificent undefeated 86 steered England to a five-wicket victory in the opening T20 International against South Africa.
England were reeling at 34-3, chasing 180 for victory, but thanks to the Yorkshireman’s calmness they got over the line.
Not the start England were looking for
On a sunny day in Cape Town, England won the toss and put South Africa in to bat. The tourists struck early when Sam Curran had Tempa Bavuma caught behind off the sixth ball of the innings.
A partnership of 77 was broken when Quinton de Kock(30) was caught at cover off Chris Jordan. Curran struck again to have Faf du Plessis(58) caught in the deep. The Surrey paceman then removed Henriech Klaasen(20) to give him his best T20I bowling figures of 3-28.
Late flurry of runs boasts hosts total
With the scoreboard showing 147-4 with only three overs to go, the hosts needed a late flurry of runs. Rassie der Dussen(37) provided the momentum with 37 as the hosts added 32 further runs to finish on 179-6.
Although it was a good day with the ball for Sam Curran his brother Tom had a bad one going for 55 off his four overs.
England suffer setback in opening over
England’s reply got off to the worst possible start when Jason Roy(0) went second ball cutting spinner George Linde.
Josh Buttler(7) steered to cover and when Linde nabbed the wicket of Dawid Malan(19), England were in some trouble.
England were rescued by a fourth wicket partnership of 85, before Ben Stokes(37) holed out to long on.
Run rate creeping up to almost 13 an over
With the run rate approaching 13 an over the visitors had it all to do. With 21 needed of 15 deliveries captain Eoin Morgan(12) holed out in the deep.
South Africa fancied their chances of wrapping up victory, but they had to remove Bairstow. The Yorkshireman looked to have a point to prove after being dropped at the IPL last month. Batting at number four instead of his normal opening position he took control of the game to see England home.
Curran completes a fine all round performance
He was helped by Sam Curran who came in when 15 runs were needed of nine balls. His first delivery he deposited Kagiso Rabada into the stands for a maximum.
Going into the final over England required seven runs for victory. Bairstow faced the bowling off Lungi Ngidi. First up he deposited Ngidi through the midwicket boundary before finishing the game with a six over long on.
This England side have a handy knack of winning close games
Bairstow’s brilliance of 86 off just 48 balls proved once again why England are masters at this format of the game. Whatever target is set in front of them they never panic and have batsman down the order who can finish the job off.
South Africa will feel they have missed out on a glorious chance of getting an opening win. They will look back on some poor bowling right at the death that gifted England extra runs.
England will take a 1-0 series lead into the second T20 international which will be at Paarl on Sunday.