Jonny Bairstow took England home with an unbeaten 86 off 48 balls against South Africa and won the first Twenty20 with five wickets on Friday (Saturday NZ time).
Bairstow won it with back-to-back limits, a four, then a big six over wide long-on, taking England to 183-5 and South Africa’s 179-6 with four balls left.
England lagged behind in the game for most of their chase despite hitting the Bairstow boundary until the 17th left, when Bairstow and Captain Eoin Morgan looted 28 of them on the left sailor Beuran Hendricks.
Hendricks walked it in a batter to contribute to South Africa’s downfall, including one so far down the leg side that he flew away for four.
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The over completely turned the complexion into a fan-free Newlands, with England needing 51 runs from 24 balls for the over and just 23 from 18 after.
Morgan fell for 12 in the next to a catch at midwicket at Lungi Ngidi, but England held their heads and Bairstow kept pushing boundaries after getting the opening.
Bairstow hit nine fours and four sixes and was England’s match winner after shifting from opener to No. 4 to give Jos Buttler a shot at the top of the league table.
Sam Curran took 3-28 for England and helped out at the end with a six of his own right, and was 7 not out.
South Africa put in a competitive total with 30 at the top of the order from captain Quinton de Kock, 58 from former captain Faf du Plessis and 37 from Rassie van der Dussen.
Left arm spinner George Linde kept South Africa at the top with two early wickets on his T20 debut, including Jason Roy being caught behind 0 on the second ball from England’s pursuit.
Bairstow and Ben Stokes revived their love for Newlands, where they combined a world record sixth wicket partnership of 399 for a test in 2016.
This score was only worth 85, but it revived England from 34-3 to 119-4. Still, South Africa thought they had renounced the threat when Stokes 37 was out after hitting a low, flat and hard-to-long punch, where Linde held a sharp catch.
Bairstow survived one chance, when du Plessis jumped and dropped a one-handed chance on the limit. Aside from that, Bairstow was utterly fluent, cracking borders across the leg side or pushing them away from the bat’s face on the offside side.
The game was the first international cricket match in South Africa since the Covid-19 outbreak. The teams will play three T20s and three one-day internationals on the short-lived tour of England, which is organized to give both teams the opportunity to play cricket in a virus-disrupted international schedule.