Home team seals last-ball victory after Tahir’s 4 for 21 keeps England to 134/8 in first T20I
Chris Morris played another brilliant knock under pressure to pull off a thrilling last-ball win for South Africa by three wickets in the first of a two-match Twenty20 International series against England.
South Africa needed 15 runs off Reece Topley’s final over, and Morris hit a four and a six, while he and Kyle Abbott scrambled two runs off the final ball that was hit to long-off – Abbott diving the complete the second run to seal the win and ensure the match didn’t go to a Super Over.
England had been kept to 134 for 8 at Newlands in Cape Town on Friday (February 19), and it turned out to be nearly enough, until South Africa got over the line off the final ball. It brought England’s run of six successive T20I victories to an end, and marked South Africa’s 50th win in the format.
England was restricted to a below-par total on a slow track thanks to Imran Tahir, who finished with career-best figures of 4 for 21. Although England’s bowlers triggered a mini-implosion in the death overs, Morris held his nerve to guide South Africa to 135 for 7 in 20 overs.
Chasing the modest total, South Africa had gotten off to a shaky start, losing both openers inside six overs. While AB de Villiers top-edged a short one from Chris Jordan only to find Hales at fine leg, Ben Stokes elicited an edge off Hashim Amla (22) in a wicket-maiden, for David Willey to take an excellent low catch at mid-on.
Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy tilted the scales back in South Africa’s favour with some patient batting. Their stand of 41 runs for the third wicket was punctuated by hard-run singles rather than booming boundaries. But spin accounted for both well-set batsmen. Duminy fell while trying to get underneath a fullish delivery off Adil Rashid, and du Plessis smashed a Moeen Ali delivery straight down the throat of Stokes at long-on.
Runs dried up thereafter, and Ali struck again to send back Rilee Rossouw for 18. But it was Jordan’s twin strikes in the penultimate over that really pushed South Africa on the backfoot, and needed Morris to pull off his final-over heroics.
Morris had recently done the star turn with the bat in South Africa’s thrilling one-wicket win in the fourth One-Day International between the two sides too.
Earlier, the home team’s bowlers made quick inroads into England’s top order under overcast conditions.
Alex Hales and Jason Roy, the England openers, got the team off to a blazing start, putting on 38 runs in just 3.4 overs. Hales set the tone with three fours off Kagiso Rabada in the second over, before Roy took over and smashed a six and a four over midwicket of Abbott. As the partnership threatened to swell, Rabada had Roy scooping a slow bouncer to Amla at midwicket.
Hales was the next to depart, top edging a Tahir delivery to be magnificently caught by Duminy at deep backward square leg. Charging towards each other for the catch, Rabada and Duminy had a nasty collision, even as the latter held on to the ball moments before Rabada crashed into him headfirst.
David Wiese snapped up Joe Root with his first delivery and England found itself 53 for 3 in 7.1 overs. Stokes showed intent, hitting a four and a six off Tahir, but the legspinner got the better of the allrounder, who failed to read a googly and was stumped for 11.
The scoring rate dipped after that, and Tahir accounted for Eoin Morgan and Ali off successive deliveries in the 13th over to push England further back. While Morgan lofted one straight up in the air to Wiese at third man, Ali slashed it to mid-off, where Du Plessis flung himself to the left and took a superb diving catch.
Jos Buttler held the latter part of the innings together, but South Africa’s bowlers chipped away on a pitch that responded well. Buttler’s 27-run seventh-wicket stand with Jordan took England past the 100-run mark, before the latter fell to Abbott for 15. Rabada and Abbott had gone for runs early in the innings, but the duo pulled things back in the end to restrict England to a modest total.
With Quinton de Kock being rested for both T20Is against England due to a knee injury, de Villiers took the gloves for South Africa.
For full scorecard of the match, click here.