Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler hit fifty to lead England to the victory of the T20 series in exciting final against South Africa in Centurion
- England beat South Africa with five wickets in an exciting third T20 in Centurion
- Captain Eoin Morgan hit a 22-ball 57 that included seven sixes
- Tourists were set to 223 to win after hosts won the pitch and were the first to hit
- Jos Buttler (57) and Jonny Bairstow (64) were also in the points for Morgan’s men
This will certainly be nice if England tries to become the first country to become a double world champion.
As proof of the first two games here, it seemed that this series against South Africa was settled on points.
But in a show of their muscle strength, and the strength template that they believe they can bring them to Twenty20 glory later this year, they delivered a knockout blow by claiming a 2-1 win with five balls left.
Eoin Morgan embraces Moeen Ali after England sealed a win with five games over South Africa
In terms of Twenty20 that is a big win, especially when you consider that they were after 223.
It was their second highest pursuit in T20 history, only enhanced by a new victory over the Proteas at the 2016 World Cup and they were grateful for the amazing late attack of their captain Eoin Morgan for this.
Left-handed Morgan equaled his own record for England’s fastest 50, took only 21 balls to reach the goal, and wore seven sixes to help his team beat the heavyweight batting match with 15-13.
The chase escaped from England when with 59 required 25 balls, Morgan Dale Steyn walloped long-off for six.
Ben Stokes also weighed a few against death after losing three wickets in four overs, of course threatening to beat England.
The chase was set up by brilliant half-centuries of Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow, but they attacked improvised battles to leave Morgan to show why he is now perhaps the second most feared late innings hitter in world cricket behind Andre Russell .
Morgan shot seven sixes in a 21-ball fifty to lead the tourists to a stunning victory
Jonny Bairstow at the top scored 64 out of 34 balls for England, including three sixes
Jos Buttler was back in the points for England and scored 57 of 29 in the top of the order
The biggest T20 score of 241 for six in South Africa came against England just over 10 years ago at the same time and when Temba Bavuma and Quinton de Kock were behind each other at the start of this decisive match, an upgrade seemed to be in the pipeline to stand.
Mark Wood kept an extraordinary statistic, and certainly an unwanted one, when his opening delivery by Quinton de Kock was stamped on the ground for six. His first legitimate balls in the first two games were also deposited over the ropes by the South African captain. Not the kind of hat trick a fast bowler strives for.
But there are extenuating circumstances for the ball flying into the stands here at Highveld, where the air is thinner, and as if he wanted to show that his treatment was not personal, De Kock then turned his attention to Chis Jordan.
Three sixes in a row – two relaxed from the cushions on either side of a hook to a fine leg – brought the 50 position in just 3.4 overs.
Mark Wood (right) underwent a scorching time with the ball and disappeared 47 for three overs
Heinrich Klaasen scored top for the Proteas and scored 66 of only 33 deliveries
Until then, it had been the diminutive Bavuma who had dominated the score, reached 24 before the Kock had made double figures, and he went on the front foot by welcoming the introductions of both Adil Rashid and Ben Stokes into the bowling attack by calling them in front six to deposit.
But the mid-inning combination paid off when each took a wicket within the space of four balls to temporarily control the momentum.
It is unusual for a bowler to send a fourfold spell in T20 cricket these days, but Stokes did so after keeping De Kock fired to a slower ball by keeping Rassie van der Dussen in the depth.
In the meantime, Bavuma did not succeed in choosing Googly from Adil Rashid with fatal consequences.
With a lot of wickets in hand, however, South Africa brought the foot back to the floor when Heinrich Klaasen, recalled to his homeland, used his local knowledge well.
He cleared the ropes four times on his way to a 25-ball 50, and that was Mark Wood’s concern about feeding Klaasen’s bow that he completely lost his radar in a nine-ball over 23 runs.
The only England postponement in the field usually coincided with Tom Curran – but it wasn’t a day to become a bowler.