Ahead of the Twenty20 International series, a confident Eoin Morgan had declared that each member of the England side will get a game. They weren’t quite able to pull it off, with Craig Overton missing out, but the lesser known faces clearly impressed with Tom Curran and Dawid Malan leading the way.
On Sunday (June 25), Morgan dropped himself as England handed a Twenty20 International debut to Malan. The left-hander smashed a 44-ball 78 to lift the hosts to 181 for 8 before the bowlers collaborated to seal the game by 19 runs and the three-match series 2-1 at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff. England will be satisfied with the way the series panned out where they were able to test the young guns and pull off a series win after a disappointing defeat in the second game.
AB de Villiers threatened to take the game away from the hosts at one stage, but he fell to Mason Crane in the 11th over after striking a 19-ball 35. De Villiers’s dismissal was eventually the turning point of the game. The South Africa captain had smashed the legspinner for a boundary and two sixes but tonked the last ball of the over straight to square leg. South Africa, at that stage, were rebuilding, after their top three had been kept in check.
South Africa had fallen behind in the chase with just 59 on the board after nine overs. With the asking rate climbing, de Villiers had to inject some momentum and he chose the youngster, Crane. However, despite picking up 18 runs in the over, the scoreboard pressure and an error in judgment meant the right-hander had to make the long walk back.
South Africa were dealt with another unkind cut soon after de Villiers’s dismissal when Chris Jordan dismissed David Miller to leave the visitors struggling at 86 for 5.
Earlier, Malan’s innings gave England the impetus in the middle overs before they somewhat lost control of things in the death . Asked to bat, Malan walked in after Morne Morkel dismissed Jason Roy early. He walked across to Chris Morris on the second ball he faced and planted the bowler over the square leg fence.
If there were nerves from the debutant, the clearly weren’t hampering his thinking or mindset. England needed a solid foundation and Malan, with Alex Hales (36), scored 105 for the second wicket to push the hosts into a good position. Malan’s onslaught gave Hales the much-needed cushion as the opener struggled to get going for most part of his innings. His movements were hampered too after he smashed one onto his knee off an inside edge early on.
For the early part of his innings, it appeared Malan preferred the on side as he continuously walked across to work the ball to the on side. But to his credit, as his innings progressed, he made room to cash in on the short offside boundaries as well.
When Malan fell, England were 127 for 3. The left-hander, trying to clear the long-on fielder, failed to pick the wrong ‘un from Imran Tahir and presented a simple catch to Dane Paterson. England made their way to 166 for 3 before they slipped and had to settle for a par score. Paterson picked up the key wickets of Jos Buttler (31), Liam Livingstone, David Willey and Sam Billings to dent the hosts in the end overs.
It was an exceptional display of death bowling from Andile Phehlukwayo and Paterson but as it turned out, the Hales-Malan stand of 105 had done enough damage.
Brief scores: England 181/8 in 20 overs (Dawid Malan 78; Dane Paterson 4-32) beat South Africa 162/7 in 20 overs (AB de Villiers 35; Chris Jordan 3-31) by 19 runs.