England 234 for 6 (Bairstow 90, Moeen 52, Ngidi 5-39) beat South Africa 193 for 8 (Stubbs 72, Hendricks 57, Gleeson 3-51) with 41 runs
Are we worried about Jason Roy?
A question that seems moot given the way England batted, but let’s go there. Roy has only scored one fifty in nine T20I innings this year and has been fired in single digits five times, including today. Ngidi’s slower ball had the better of several batters in recent months and he delivered a particularly skilled ball in his second, leaving Roy thinking he could swing over the offside. He had no explanation for the lack of pace, got through the shot early and only ended up with a nasty swipe to be about to be caught. England were 41 for 2 in the fifth over.
It seems those lunges with Sam Curran on his shoulders helped Bairstow build extra strength for his T20 game. He went ahead with Roy’s firing by targeting South Africa’s spinners. His first boundary came with a pull from Keshav Maharaj through mid-wicket and his second, a smash by cow corner that was hit so hard that Heinrich Klaasen didn’t pick it up as it sailed over his head. Shamsi also took a tonk on his next, when Dawid Malan slammed him over extra cover and when Bairstow flattened him for four and hurled him to the stands on the legs to bring England halfway through at 98 for 2. Bairstow went on to finish his eighth T20 fifty, from 36 balls, in his first T20I of the year. It’s also Bairstow’s first fifty in ten T20I innings, and he’d only had one (tough) chance at the time, Bairstow was then dropped on 56, 72 and 77.
Welcome, Tristan Stubbs
Chosen as a big hit batter, Stubbs had yet to encounter a ball in international cricket (he didn’t bat in the first two games he played) before his offspin was called into action. South Africa entered the game with just five frontline bowling options and no Aiden Markram, so when David Miller wanted to try something different, Stubbs was his only choice.
Miller picked a pressure moment, with England at 148 for 3 after 15 overs, to introduce Stubbs and his first two balls went well before Bairstow smoked his third ball long-on and then tried to clear a deep middle wicket but succeeded not getting enough to go over the square border. Rilee Rossouw ran in and got to the ball, but it slipped through his fingers. Bairstow was 56 and Stubbs’ nightmare wasn’t over yet. He was called up for a back-foot no-ball on what should have been the last ball from the over. Moeen Ali hit him for six, but luckily the free hit only resulted in two runs.
Stubbs cost more than 20. But he more than made up for it with a powerful display that might have made the headlines on another day. Stubbs hit eight sixes and two fours in the 28 balls he faced and gave South Africa a new finishing option.
And welcome back, Rilee Rossouw