As with the opening game of each of the three formats, South Africa once again drew first blood against England after a nail-biting one-run victory in the first KFC T20 International at Buffalo Park in East London on Wednesday.
Lungi Ngidi bowled a brilliant final over to defend seven runs and leave England just short of the Proteas competitive 177/8 batting first, and thus, gift the Proteas a 1-0 lead in the series. Ngidi was awarded the KFC man-of-the-match for his efforts, after claiming the wickets of Tom Curran for two, caught on the boundary off the second ball, and then accounting Moeen Ali, who was bowled by a superb yorker off the penultimate delivery.
Adil Rashid departed for one after he was run out off the last ball trying to scamper back for the second run, in search of a tie to send the game into a super over. “I think it kind of played into my game plan; them having a lot of left-handers and hitting towards the bigger side and obviously taking the ball away from the bat. So, that kind of helped me a lot,” said Ngidi after the match.
Jason Roy led England’s charge as he powered to 70 off 38 balls, striking seven fours and three sixes, in the process. This laid the platform from which visiting captain Eoin Morgan almost finished from, as he cracked 52 off 34 before falling in the penultimate over with seven runs still needed. Earlier, Jonny Bairstow (23) and Jos Buttler (15) got off to good starts.
Key wickets from Dale Steyn and Andile Phehlukwayo, respectively, pegged the visitors back at this point and in the end, England’s impressive attempts at a push came to within a whisker of sending the nail-biting affair into a super over. They had been well-placed on 95/2 at the halfway point and, despite Beuran Hendricks removing the free-hitting Roy, they still looked on course for the win.
But with Joe Denly (5) and Ben Stokes (6) falling cheaply, it was up to the tail to wag but were unable to as England fell one run short. Ngidi with 3-30 stood out, while Phehlukwayo (2-32) and Hendricks (2-33) provided able support.