South Africa 207 for 3 (Rossouw 96*, Hendricks 53) beat England 149 (Shamsi 3-27, Phehluwayo 3-39) with 58 runs
South Africa unfolded a near-perfect short-form display to beat England by 58 runs in Cardiff, turning the T20I series into a quadratic for Sunday’s decider in the Ageas Bowl.
England was bad on the field, with wayward lines and lengths, and a variety of fielding errors. Gleeson was able to make up for dropping Hendricks around the corner on a fine leg for 51 by taking the righthander’s wicket in the next over. However, Buttler’s flyout down Rossouw’s leg – who just had 37 – was much more expensive.
The last three wickets fell to just eight, the last of which, Richard Gleeson, was apparently taken on a whim by the fielding side after a DRS call. As with everything else in the game, it went down in South Africa.
But the prodigal son is now a man, and his innings here typified an underlying sense of maturity in his game. It was especially clear to those he wasn’t aiming for: Reece Topley started well for him and Moeen Ali’s off-spin would always be tricky for the southpaw to go after him. But he hit well against Gleeson, Jordan and, in particular, Adil Rashid, taking 18 runs on the nine throws he faced from the leg pinner. But for Stubbs chewing through half of the final, Rossouw would likely have hit a first international T20I hundred. Nevertheless, after a stunning Vitality Blast season for Somerset (623 runs at a strike rate of 192.28), it is abundantly clear that the 32-year-old is making up for lost time.
Right, left – overthinking?
It’s nothing new, and in this case it was because of the disparity between the two square borders. With leftist Rossouw skipping through the innings from fourth, David Miller waved through a procession of right-handers, including Stubbs coming in for the stand-in captain. Likewise, Bairstow was stopped for Moeen from entering at number 4 in England’s innings after Dawid Malan fell. When Moeen himself was fired for an enterprising 28, Sam Curran came in for Liam Livingstone at six.
None of them really came out, although the reasons for the promotions were entirely justified given the form of Stubbs (72 of 28) and Moeen (52 of 18) from the night before. Not to mention that Bairstow was already in at ninth anyway, and Rossouw would always come in at number 3 to join Hendricks. On this occasion, it was a tactic that made perfect sense, but yielded no tangible reward.
The bad news is that it seems like it’s just another chance to fail. Since a century in the final ODI against the Netherlands in Amsterdam, Roy has struggled to get going on home soil. Apart from a 41 in the third ODI against India, he has struggled to get the size of the white Kookaburra ball, showing occasional flashes of timing amid many errors and errors of judgment.
The problem that affects Roy more than others is aesthetics: it’s his nature to go after attacks, and it’s considered an advantage of his character that, even when he’s struggling, he never shirks a fight. However, that means that in the middle of this kind of run, he looks like a guy being pushed into the corner and waving his eyes shut at haymakers.
Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor for ESPNcricinfo