After a thrilling opening gambit in the three-match T20I series between South Africa and England on Wednesday (February 12), here’s hoping game two lives up to the new expectations. With England needing a victory to ensure they remain alive in the series, and South Africa wanting, or rather needing, a soothing win after a sustained period of tumult, both sides will certainly be going for it at Kingsmead as they look to arrive at a formula to take into the T20 World Cup later this year.
In a lot of ways, the sides have similar strengths and weaknesses at this moment in their preparation, attributes that were clearly in evidence during South Africa’s one-run victory in East London.
For both teams, the strength of their batting is concentrated at the top of the order, led by the two wicket-keepers, Quinton de Kock and Jos Buttler. South Africa scored at better than ten runs an over for the first half of their innings in game one while England were 132 for 2 with six overs remaining. Neither side holds back when taking on the new ball.
The middle-order collapses that both teams suffered hinted at the major issue they both have. After the first four positions, South Africa’s line-up has a fallible feel to it at present and a return of 72 for seven wickets in their last ten overs in the first game suggested as much. It gave them no more than a par score when, at the halfway point, it looked like they would go on to register more than 200. Spin once again caused them issues, continuing one of the themes of South Africa’s summer. This time it was Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali rather than Dom Bess, as it was in the Test series.
England collapsed in a similar manner, losing 7 for 44 in the final 5.5 overs. Jason Roy’s blistering innings put them on course for a win, and then Morgan put his foot down as he surged for the line, but still it wasn’t enough as a number of poor shots, including Morgan’s, and some fine bowling from South Africa caused them to fall agonisingly short. England’s middle-order has been unsettled for a while now with the likes of Sam Billings and Lewis Gregory being given a go before Joe Denly got the nod for this series. They don’t seem any clearer to an answer, however.
As he contemplated defeat after Wednesday’s match, Morgan said he felt the lessons gleaned from England’s failure to close out the win, having required seven runs from seven balls, would stand them in good long-term stead. In 50-over cricket, his side have been, by and large, excellent at using defeats as motivation to get better, something Ben Stokes has previously called out as being a key factor in last summer’s World Cup win. They have less time to learn lessons before the T20 version in Australia begins in October but learn them they still can.
At least England can take comfort in the quality of their bowling line-up which, despite an error-strewn opening in the first game, looks varied and skillful even without Jofra Archer. The spin twins of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, combined figures of 2 for 45 from eight overs in East London, remains a real trump card while Chris Jordan’s death bowling was, yet again, superb. Jordan was not alone there. Lungi Ngidi bowled two excellent overs at the death of England’s innings to get his side just over the line. For neutrals, another close finish in Durban on Friday evening certainly wouldn’t go amiss.
“It was a great game to play in because you get a feel for where guys are at, what skill level they can produce, and how their temperament is. So in terms of actually improving, I think it’s great for us” – Eoin Morgan”
These type of wins, we want to be able to scrape them in the big events” – Temba Bavuma
South Africa: Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock(w/c), Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, JJ Smuts, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Beuran Hendricks, Dale Steyn, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi, Reeza Hendricks, Petrus van Biljon, Sisanda Magala, Heinrich Klaasen, Bjorn Fortuin
England: Jason Roy, Jos Buttler(w), Jonny Bairstow, Eoin Morgan(c), Joe Denly, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood, Dawid Malan, Saqib Mahmood, Matthew Parkinson, Sam Curran
When: February 14, 9:30 PM IST, 6:00 PM Local
Where: Kingsmead, Durban
Broadcast: The match will be broadcasted LIVE and Exclusive on Sony Six and Sony Six HD. The stream will also be broadcasted on Sony LIV.