Jonny Bairstow’s unbeaten 86 helped England produce a stunning fightback to win the first T20I against South Africa at Newlands, Cape Town.
Despite Faf du Plessis’ 58 which helped the hosts post 179/6 batting first, England battled back from 34/3 to chase down their target and take a 1-0 series lead.
Things started well for England with Sam Curran removing Temba Bavuma in the first over of the match but Quinton de Kock and Du Plessis soon got the Proteas moving, with the latter slapping 24 off Tom Curran’s first over including two big sixes. The first was dispatched to the construction site and the second was sent into the empty stands for England fielders to retrieve.
De Kock landed a couple of hefty blows himself but Chris Jordan removed the skipper for 30, as the home side reached 86/2 after 10 overs.
Du Plessis reached his 50 before holing out to Jordan in the deep off the bowling of Sam Curran, and after Heinrich Klaasen blasted a quickfire 20 from 12 balls, the England paceman had him caught behind with the final ball of his spell, finishing with a hard-earned 3/28.
Debutant George Linde produced a short cameo at the death with 12 off six balls before Tom Curran bowled him with the final ball of the innings to leave England a target of 180.
Linde was straight back out to open the bowling and with just the second delivery of his T20I career he had Jason Roy caught behind for a duck, leaving England at 1/1 from the first over.
Dawid Malan struck several boundaries as England tried to find their stride but Jos Buttler (seven) skied the ball to Klaasen as Lungi Ngidi struck with the first ball of his spell.
Linde returned to complete the Powerplay and it was another tremendous over for the 28-year-old as he removed No.1-ranked T20I batsman Malan for 19.
With the score at 34-3 when Bairstow and Stokes came together, the pair repaired the innings as they blasted the ball to all parts to pile the pressure back on the home bowling attack.
But Linde came to the rescue again, as he caught Stokes (37) at long-on off the bowling of Tabraiz Shamsi to break the 85-run partnership.
It looked like a tough task for Eoin Morgan’s men but he and a brilliant Bairstow battered Beuran Hendricks' final over for 28, to leave England needing just 23 from the final three overs.
Ngidi had Morgan caught in the deep for 12 but one lusty blow from Sam Curran assisted Bairstow, and the Yorkshire batsman finished the game in style as he blasted a four and a six in the final over to see England home by five wickets with four balls to spare.
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