|Third Twenty20 international, Centurion|
|South Africa 222-6 (20 overs): Klaasen 66, Bavuma 49; Curran 2-33|
|England 226-5 (19.1 overs): Bairstow 64, Morgan 57*, Buttler 57|
|England win by five wickets|
England pulled off a stunning chase of 223 to beat South Africa in the third Twenty20 in Centurion and take a pulsating series 2-1.
Captain Eoin Morgan hit a blistering 57 not out from 22 balls, leading England to their second-highest chase in T20s – and the fourth-highest of all-time – with five balls remaining.
Morgan smashed seven sixes to take his side over the line after Jos Buttler (57) and Jonny Bairstow (64) also made half-centuries.
Heinrich Klaasen propelled South Africa to their total with a 33-ball 66 after the hosts had made a rapid start, but England’s big hitting always kept them in the chase.
They stuttered, losing two wickets for seven runs shortly after halfway but, with 53 runs needed from the final four overs, Morgan, helped by Ben Stokes’ 22, took control in sensational style.
Stokes holed out on the first ball of the penultimate over but Morgan hit back-to-back sixes before Moeen Ali sealed the win with a boundary.
The victory sees England take a gripping series which had produced final-ball finishes in the previous two games.
Morgan’s magic gives England victory
When England wobbled mid innings they were in danger of letting the platform set by Buttler and Bairstow go to waste.
Unlike in the first game, when Morgan was one of those culpable in his side throwing away a winning position, he seized the game emphatically.
The left-hander hit Dale Steyn over long-on for six off the final ball of the 16th over to keep the required rate in check and then plundered 14 runs from his next three balls, launching Lungi Ngidi into the stands twice more.
He equalled his own record for England’s fastest T20 50 with his seventh six, reaching the landmark from 21 balls.
Morgan’s stunning assault ensured England remarkably reached such a high total with balls to spare.
Bairstow and Buttler lay the platform
Morgan’s heroics would not have been possible but for the platform set by Bairstow and Buttler.
Having lost Jason Roy for seven in the second over, the pair shared a partnership of 91 to keep England in the game.
Buttler’s role as opener has been questioned in this series but he found form after an uncertain start.
Buttler and Bairstow took England to 62-1 at the end of the six-over powerplay and then increased their intent immediately, taking 19 runs from spinner Tabraiz Shamsi’s first over.
Buttler fell lobbing an attempted scoop to short third man off Pretorius for a 29-ball 57, but afterwards Bairstow took up the scoring, targeting Shamsi again with three consecutive boundaries.
Bairstow was bowled by Andile Phehlukwayo with 83 runs still needed and Dawid Malan edged behind off Shamsi in the following over, but Morgan was able to guide his team to a memorable victory.
Tough day for the bowlers
In total there were 28 sixes hit in the match and 448 runs scored – the bowlers not helped by a supreme batting pitch or the fact the game was being played at altitude, which helped the ball sail over the short boundaries.
From the outset England failed to gain control with South Africa openers Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma scoring 52 runs from the first 22 balls.
The usually dependable Chris Jordan was hit for three consecutive leg-side sixes in the fourth over which cost 19.
Mark Wood was even more expensive, pummelled for 47 runs in three overs, including 23 from his second with three wides.
Conditions did not help England but they harmed their own cause by bowling nine wides in the innings.
With no spin on offer, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid were unable to peg South Africa back as they had done in the previous matches with Tom Curran the only bowler to offer any kind of control.
England will celebrate the win and take solace from the fact South Africa’s bowlers fared no better, but there is improvement needed with just six games before the Twenty20 World Cup begins in October.
The best T20 series ever? – stats & best of social media
- There were 1207 runs across the series. More than any other three-match series in the history of T20 internationals.
- Only six other T20 internationals have had more runs scored than the 448 in this one in Centurion. And there was still five balls to go…
- The 15 sixes equals England’s best in a T20, joining the 15 they plundered against New Zealand at Auckland in 2013.
- Eoin Morgan, who hit seven sixes, became first England player to score 100 T20I sixes – he now has 105, the same as West Indies’ Chris Gayle
- Jacob Wadsworth on Twitter: “Absolutely brilliant, embrace this period, we won’t see anything like we’ve seen in the last four years again, so good.”
- Kevin Ticehurst on Twitter: “Get in there England, our bowling wasn’t great today. But it just shows you how far we have come in five years under Morgan. That result will give other countries a look over their shoulder. Is there anything we can’t chase down?”
- Alex Williams on Twitter: “Can’t think of a better T20 series than this one. Pure entertainment from start to finish.”
‘An amazing game of cricket’ – what they said
England captain Eoin Morgan, speaking to the Test Match Special podcast: “It’s brilliant. When a series is so tight, to come out on top says a lot about the side.
“Probably where it’s a little bit disappointing from everyone, upon reflection, is how we started the series (losing in East London).
“We started pretty slow, we still managed to stay in the first game, the chase actually turned out pretty well and we should have won but we capitulated at the end.
“That is a big learning curve for us going forward – how we start a series and how we might start a World Cup.”
England all-rounder Moeen Ali: “It was another amazing game. There have been three quality games, some amazing cricket, some top batting obviously and some great death bowling from some of the guys.
“It was a tough game today, because the wicket was amazing and the ball flies here but it was a great win.”
Article courtesy of BBC Sport