South Africa produced a stunning victory over England in the opening match of the series, winning a thriller by one run in East London. The Proteas set a target of 178 from their 20 overs courtesy of impressive innings from Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock and Rassie van der Dussen. Bavuma top scored with a knock of 43 after the home side made a bright start. And although they lost momentum towards the end of the innings, their total was still a competitive one.
Jason Roy handed England a fast start to their reply, reaching their fifty in the fifth over. He scored the second fastest half-century made by a player representing the Three Lions, reaching the milestone in 22 deliveries. After his departure for 70 the odds were stacked against the tourists.
However, Eoin Morgan cut loose to score a half-century of his own, leaving his team needing only seven from the final over. Following the dismissal of their skipper, England collapsed under the pressure as Lungi Ngidi composed himself to claim the victory for the home side to put them in control of the series heading to Durban.
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South Africa were on form with the bat in their top order. The Proteas have been reliant on the performances of De Kock, and he did not disappoint with a brisk 31 from 15 deliveries to get his side on their way. His innings allowed Bavuma and Van der Dussen to settle into the game and they played the significant knocks to put a competitive total on the board.
Even though the rest of the line-up was a tad underwhelming, don’t expect the home team to make changes. There are not a lot of alternatives available to coach Mark Boucher and De Kock. Batting was not the easiest after the powerplay so they should keep faith with their batsmen.
The bowlers held their nerve amid the pressure, although the elements also played a role. Ngidi bounced back from a tough opening spell to effectively win the match for his team. He claimed two wickets in the final over along with another to dismiss Ben Stokes earlier in the game. Ngidi was able to thrive due to the miserly work of leg-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi. England have not come to grips with Shamsi yet so expect him to play another crucial role in Durban.
England will be fuming with themselves for allowing the game to slip through their grasp. They had fought back in the contest and reeled South Africa back in after their initial burst with the bat. Roy’s onslaught had put them well ahead of the required rate. However, for once in recent times they lacked composure when they needed it the most. It could prompt at least one change in the line-up.
Joe Denly has featured heavily in the tour and it may be time for him to make way for Dawid Malan in the middle order. Tom Curran had a bad day with the bat and ball, conceding 41 runs from his three overs and playing a costly shot that saw him dismissed in the final over when only five was required to win.
His brother Sam may return to the fold to hone his skills ahead of the Indian Premier League. Adil Rashid had another impressive outing with the ball to bamboozle the hosts, while Moeen Ali also impressed in his four overs. Rashid has been the main man for England in T20 cricket with the ball and look for him to shine again.
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Conditions should be perfect in Durban for the contest, although it will take place in the evening. The weather throughout the day is forecast to be bright sunshine with a high of 30°C, while it will cool down a tad towards the evening for the start of the game at roughly 25°C. Given the nature of 20-over cricket the conditions should not favour one side over the other.
England will have been bitterly disappointed with their inability to get over the line in the opener. The Three Lions manoeuvred themselves into position to win the contest but were not able to hold their nerve under pressure.
South Africa will have been thrilled with their response amid adversity at the start of England’s chase. Every single bowler played a part in the triumph and it will have to continue to be a group effort without Kagiso Rabada in the line-up.
Whether they have enough firepower in their batting ranks remains to be seen and that could be their downfall if conditions are favourable in Durban for a high-scoring game. The Three Lions were close in the Eastern Cape and should be able to go one further this time around to level the series heading into the third and final match of the tour.
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Jos Buttler has been disappointing on England’s tour of South Africa. His innings of 15 in the opening match of the series epitomised his struggles. However, he’s too good of a player to remain in the doldrums and a breakout performance ahead of the Indian Premier League could spark a resurgence for the rest of 2020.
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|Wicketkeepers||Quinton de Kock
|All Rounders||Ben Stokes