ENGLAND’S Moeen Ali plays a shot during the second Twenty20 International against South Africa at Kingsmead.—AFP
ENGLAND’S Moeen Ali plays a shot during the second Twenty20 International against South Africa at Kingsmead.—AFP

DURBAN: England’s Tom Curran took two wickets with the last two balls of the match as they beat South Africa by two runs in an amazing Twenty20 International that produced over 400 runs on Friday as the tourists levelled the series at 1-1 with one game to play.

South Africa needed three off the last two balls ay Kingsmead but Curran, who had just been smashed for 12 runs in three by Dwaine Pretorius, got him lbw then had Bjorn Fortuin caught off the final ball to cap off a day of almost unrelenting excitement and set up a thrilling decider in Centurion on Sunday.

“The performance and the level of intensity we operated at was a considerable improvement on [the first match in] East London, both with the bat and the ball,” said England captain Eoin Morgan. “The standout for us tonight was Moeen Ali. To come in and strike the ball like that was such a match-winning innings. Chris Jordan was outstanding. He leads the attack, has a cool, calm head and delivers when it matters. He’s a guy you want in your side.”

England got off to a great start through Jason Roy (40) and Johnny Bairstow (35) but were then bogged down somewhat before Ben Stokes, who finished on 47 not out, and Moeen took charge as the latter hammered 39 off 11 balls as the tourists slammed 79 runs off the last five overs to reach 204-7.

Man-of-the-match Moeen said: “It was nice to go out and middle a few to get going and then I went on instinct to put pressure on the bowlers.”

The high-scoring match was punctuated by a staggering 30 sixes.

The highest previous successful Twenty20 International run chase on the ground was 158 but South Africa, roared on in a fantastic atmosphere, were always in the mix after skipper Quinton de Kock smashed eight sixes on his way to 65 off 22 balls as they reached 92 without loss in the seventh over.

When he was caught by Stokes off Mark Wood the game seemed to swing England’s way and after Chris Jordan took two wickets in two balls it looked all over.

But South Africa stuck to their task and a spirited late flurry by Rassie van der Dussen (43 not out) left the hosts, who won the first match by one run, needing 15 off the final over.

Pretorius brought that down to three from the last two balls — the same equation England failed with in the first game — but Curran kept his nerve to trap him lbw with a yorker.

Bjorn Fortuin, playing his first innings in a T20 International, tried to flick the last ball from Curran to fine leg but was caught by Adil Rashid, running back from the edge of the 30m circle.

The umpires asked for a television replay to ensure he had not crossed the line before the ball was bowled, which would have meant too many fielders were outside the circle. The replay showed he only moved as the ball was delivered.

Even as England celebrated, the drama was not over as the umpires checked that Rashid had not wandered outside the fielding circle before the batsman played the ball.

They eventually ruled it a fair catch and the teams march on to a decider.

“It is great cricket,” said de Kock. “Both teams are playing really good cricket. They came out and fought right to the end and unfortunately we didn’t come across the line. “They bowled really well at the death. We can get better.”

Scoreboard

ENGLAND:

J.J. Roy c Miller b Shamsi 40

J.C. Buttler c de Kock b Ngidi 2

J.M. Bairstow b Phehlukwayo 35

E.J.G. Morgan c Bavuma b Pretorius 27

B.A. Stokes not out 47

J.L. Denly b Phehlukwayo 1

Moeen Ali c Bavuma b Ngidi 39

C.J. Jordan c Bavuma b Ngidi 7

T.K. Curran not out 0

EXTRAS (LB-2, W-4) 6

TOTAL (for seven wkts, 20 overs) 204

FALL OF WKTS: 1-17, 2-69, 3-90, 4-123, 5-125, 6-176, 7-194.

DID NOT BAT: Adil Rashid, M.A. Wood.

BOWLING: Fortuin 2-0-15-0; Hendricks 3-0-45-0 (1w); Ngidi 4-0-48-3; Phehlukwayo 4-0-47-2; Shamsi 4-0-30-1 (1w), Pretorius 3-0-17-1

SOUTH AFRICA:

T. Bavuma c Buttler b Wood 31

Q. de Kock c Stokes b Wood 65

D.A. Miller c Jordan b Stokes 21

H.E. van der Dussen not out 43

J.T. Smuts b Jordan 13

A.L. Phehlukwayo b Jordan 0

D. Pretorius lbw b Curran 25

B.C. Fortuin c Rashid b Curran 0

EXTRAS (LB-1, W-3) 4

TOTAL (for seven wkts, 20 overs) 202

FALL OF WKTS: 1-92, 2-101, 3-123, 4-158, 5-158, 6-202, 7-292.

DID NOT BAT: B.E. Hendricks, T. Shamsi, L. Ngidi.

BOWLING: Moeen Ali 3-0-36-0; Curran 4-0-45-2 (1w); Jordan 4-0-31-2 (1w); Adil Rashid 3-0-34-0; Wood 4-0-39-2 (1w); Stokes 2-0-16-1.

RESULT: England won by two runs to level three-match series at 1-1.

UMPIRES: B.P. Jele (South Africa) and A. Palekar (South Africa).

TV UMPIRE: A.T. Holdstock (South Africa).

MATCH REFEREE: D.C. Boon (Australia).

MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Moeen Ali.

FIRST MATCH: East London, South Africa won by one run.

THIRD MATCH: Centurion, Sunday.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2020