South Africa failed to shake off their Champions Trophy hangover as they slumped to an embarrassing nine-wicket defeat at the hands of England in the first International T20 match in Southampton last night.
It was a tepid T20 performance from the Proteas and once again there was an apparent lack of confidence in their batting. Their fielding was poor and there was none of the “Proteas Fire” their marketing team throws around with abandon.
They will need to rekindle that flame smartly if they are to bounce back in the second match at Taunton tomorrow.
Set a mere 143 for victory, England romped home with all of 33 balls to spare as the South Africans appeared to roll over and play dead. Jason Roy got them off to a flyer with 28 off only 14 balls and then Alex Hales (47 not out) and Jonny Bairstow (60 not out) completed the rout. Seamer Andile Phehlukwayo was the only bowler to take a wicket on a night the tourists would rather forget.
Earlier, AB de Villiers had won the toss and opted to take first strike on what looked like a belter of a pitch. They could not have got off to a worse start as Warriors captain Jon- Jon Smuts was undone by a touch of swing and just enough movement from David Willey’s first delivery, which was also the opening ball of the game.
Reeza Hendricks was out next over off the bowling of Mark Wood, who then also nicked off David Miller to have SA 32 for three in four overs. Those early blows rocked the South Africans, but they recovered somewhat through an unbeaten fourthwicket partnership of 110 from De Villiers (65 not out) and Farhaan Behardien (64 not out).
But the duo failed to kick on through the middle and latter overs and the final total of 142 for three was neither here nor there. There were no obvious danger signs in the pitch and England certainly did not struggle in their turn at the crease. Debutant legspinner Mason Crane would have been one England bowler the Proteas batsmen would have wanted to put under pressure.
But that did not happen and he and left-a rm spinner Liam Dawson were allowed to concede only 41 runs in their eight overs. The timing of the early introduction of spin by England was perfect as De Villiers and Behardien needed to rebuild after those early losses.
De Villiers struggled through South Africa’s dismal performance in the Champions Trophy and he misfired through his innings last night. It was only near the end that he started striking the ball well. He and Behardien brought up their 50-run stand off 59 deliveries and the 100-run mark off 90 balls. De Villiers ended up facing 58 deliveries with only four fours and two sixes while Behardien matched his captain off 52 balls.