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England square series : De Kock record fifty in vain

England squared the series with a 2-run win in the second T20I AFP

It was Deja Vu with three required again off the final ball, only the tables were reversed this time at Kingsmead, Durban in the second T20I on Friday (February 14). England posted a mammoth 204 and saw Quinton de Kock register a record half-century and Rassie van der Dussen come up with a vital contribution to keep South Africa in the hunt. However, England bettered the hosts in a battle of nerves to win the game by two runs and square the series.

Record fifty powers SA’s chase

He faced only four deliveries in the first three overs when South Africa moved to 23. But de Kock made sure to get the bulk of the strike for the remainder of the powerplay, which ensured maximum damage. His first six came in the fourth over when he swung away a full delivery from Chris Jordan over the backward square leg fence. De Kock followed it up with three sixes off Moeen Ali, pulling away a couple of short deliveries and one down the ground. Tom Curran too came under attack, with de Kock preferring the on side for two more sixes as he powered South Africa to 69 by the end of the first six overs. He wasn’t finished yet as he sent a short ball from Adil Rashid over the fence for his seventh six, helping de Kock register the quickest T20I fifty by a South African (off 17 balls), setting up the hosts’ powerful reply in the chase.

Did England fight back after that?

Mark Wood also felt the heat, with de Kock striking a six and a four in the eighth over. But he failed to clear a full toss over the fence, the third umpire ruling that the ball was below waist height, which brought an end to de Kock’s blazing innings. Bavuma followed soon after, getting out to a quick short delivery from Wood, who set up the avenue for England to force their way back into the game. Even though Miller struck a couple of sixes off Rashid, Wood kept it economical at his end to apply some pressure on South Africa. That resulted in a wicket as Miller, in his bid to up the ante, found Jordan at long-on to give Stokes a wicket. A couple of tight overs meant that South Africa needed 74 off the last six overs.

See-saw battle ends in England’s win

Chris Jordan’s double strike in the 17th over, when he sent back JJ Smuts and Andile Phehlukwayo off successive deliveries, swung the match in England’s favour. But van der Dussen got South Africa right back into the game with a big over off Mark Wood in the 18th. With South Africa needing 45 off the last three overs, he slammed two crucial sixes and a four in an over that yielded 19. With 26 needed in the last two, Jordan ended up conceding 11, with Pretorius edging Jordan’s penultimate ball for a four. Pretorius was on strike in the final over with 15 needed. Having faced a dot, he struck a six and a four, followed by a couple, to bring it down to three off two. However, Tom Curran held his nerve and sent back Pretorius and Bjorn Fortuin off the last two deliveries to star in England’s victory. England, though, had to wait for the third umpire to decide if Adil Rashid – who held Fortuin’s catch – was inside the circle when the final ball was bowled, leading to more drama but the decision eventually went in England’s favour.

How did England start with the bat?

Despite losing Jos Buttler early after being asked to bat, England weren’t kept quiet as Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow put on a positive half-century partnership to give their side a good start in the powerplay. Only 24 came off the first four overs but Roy and Bairstow upped the ante comfortably. With a flurry of hits to and over the ropes off Lungi Ngidi and Beuran Hendricks, they scored as many as 31 off the last two PP overs.

What happened in the middle overs?

Bairstow struck three off the four sixes in his partnership with Roy, including two off successive deliveries off Andile Phehlukwayo. But the bowler had the last laugh as he skidded one through to have Bairstow bowled for 35. Roy was kept quiet for a while before he tried to ease the pressure with a big hit, only to find Miller at long-on to give Tabraiz Shamsi a wicket. Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes were involved in a promising stand, setting up the platform for a good finish. However, South Africa fought back again through quick wickets. The change of pace did the trick for both Pretorius and Phehlukwayo, who accounted for Morgan and Joe Denly respectively to leave England at 125 for 5 in the 16th over.

How did England finish with 204?

Thanks to Moeen Ali. The left-hander put on an exhibition of his wristy strokeplay to send Hendricks and Ngidi on a leather hunt. Having started with a six over cow corner off Phehlukwayo, he struck two sixes and a four off Hendricks who conceded 21 in the 17th over. Ngidi too came under Moeen’s attack, being hit for a six and two fours. Moeen eventually fell to Ngidi, but did enough damage with his 11-ball 39. Stokes, with his clean hitting, provided the finishing touches to the innings as 28 came off the last two overs, with as many as 79 coming off the last five overs.

Brief scores: England 204/7 in 20 overs (Ben Stokes 47*, Jason Roy 40, Moeen Ali 39; Lungi Ngidi 3-48) beat South Africa 202/7 in 20 overs (Quinton de Kock 65, Rassie van der Dussen 43*; Chris Jordan 2-31) by 2 runs.

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