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Bairstow brings England home in 1st T20 vs. South Africa

CAPE TOWN, South Africa - Jonny Bairstow brought England home with an unbeaten 86 from 48 balls against South Africa to win the first Twenty20 by five wickets on Friday.

Bairstow won it with back-to-back boundaries, a four and then a big six over wide long-on, to take England to 183-5 and past South Africa’s 179-6 with four balls to spare.

England was behind the game through most of its chase despite Bairstow’s boundary hitting until the 17th over, when Bairstow and captain Eoin Morgan plundered 28 off left-arm seamer Beuran Hendricks.

Hendricks bowled three wides in that over to contribute to South Africa’s demise, including one so far down the leg-side that it flew away for four.

The over changed the complexion completely at a fan-free Newlands, with England needing 51 runs from 24 balls before the over and just 23 from 18 after it.

Morgan fell for 12 in the next over to a catch at midwicket off Lungi Ngidi but England kept its head, and Bairstow kept smashing boundaries, after being given the opening.

Bairstow hit nine fours and four sixes and was England’s match-winner after being shifted from opener to No. 4 to give Jos Buttler a chance at the top of the order.

Sam Curran took 3-28 for England and helped out with the bat with a six of his own right at the end, and was 7 not out.

South Africa posted a competitive total with 30 at the top of the order from captain Quinton de Kock, 58 from former captain Faf du Plessis and 37 from Rassie van der Dussen.

Left-arm spinner George Linde kept South Africa on top with two early wickets on his T20 debut, including Jason Roy caught behind for 0 off the second ball of England’s chase.

Bairstow and Ben Stokes rekindled their love of Newlands, where they combined for a world-record sixth-wicket partnership of 399 in a test back in 2016.

This stand was worth only 85 but it revived England from 34-3 to 119-4. Still, South Africa thought it had seen off the threat when Stokes was out for 37 after hitting one low, flat and hard to long-on, where Linde held on to a stinging catch.

Bairstow survived one chance, when du Plessis leaped and dropped a one-handed chance on the boundary. Apart from that, Bairstow was utterly fluent, crunching boundaries over the leg-side or easing them away off the face of the bat on the off-side.

The game was the first international cricket fixture in South Africa since the coronavirus outbreak. The teams will play three T20s and three one-day internationals on England’s short-notice tour, organized to give both teams a chance to play some cricket in a virus-disrupted international schedule.
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