London: Dawid Malan’s unbeaten 99 from 47 balls took England to the top of the Twenty20 rankings with a nine-wicket victory.
South Africa looked to have given themselves a sniff of avoiding a 3-0 clean sweep when Rassie van der Dussen’s unbeaten 74, allied with a similarly explosive 52 not out from Faf du Plessis, stuck 191 for three on the board.
But in reply Malan and Jos Buttler, who made a 46-ball 67 not out, could not be contained. The pair’s unbroken stand of 167 in 90 balls – an international record for the second wicket – taking Eoin Morgan’s tourists home with some 14 balls to spare.
England captain Eoin Morgan, said, ‘Extremely pleasing. At the half-way stage, we probably got it wrong at the toss, thinking that it would be a slow low-scoring wicket, but clearly it wasn’t. In the second-half of our bowling we missed out quite a lot and credit to the SA batting line-up. Given the way the wicket got better, Dawid and Jos managed to win the game in such a commanding fashion, that instills a lot of confidence in the changing room. There are a lot of questions asked when you’re not doing well, and to be able to chase a total like that given that we didn’t get off to a flier, these are encouraging signs. The batting was outstanding, the bowling was a bit off, and the two games before were hard and scraping. The bowling was good in the last game, so we were always striving for a good collective performance is important and that’s what we are looking at. There are a large group of guys who have been practising only 50-over cricket and the others know their roles, and I’m sure there will be a hard-fought series ahead.’
A dejectedSouth African captain De Kock, said, ‘It’s disappointing, but they blew us away and played better cricket than us today. I thought they played really well, and put our bowlers under a lot of pressure. They played clever cricket and we couldn’t really stop them. I think we are not playing as badly as the perception is, we’re still getting together and up against the English first up was always going to be tough. We are still confident but it’s just unfortunate that this series didn’t go our way. Some fresh faces have done alright, and hopefully they will do well in the future.’