Shamsi, Hendricks shine as Proteas dismantle England to clinch T20I series
The Proteas selectors have a good headache, particularly with the batting line-up, heading into the T20I World Cup in Australia later this year.
A complete performance in all departments by the Proteas, led by a half-century from Reeza Hendricks and a “fifer” by Tabraiz Shamsi, saw them dismantle England by 90 runs and record a 2-1 series victory in the three-match T20I series, at The Ageas Bowl in Southampton on Sunday.
It was the first white-ball series win for South Africa in England since 1998.
“Winning here in England is really tough, especially the team that they have. We know that they like to come hard and they’ve been really successful,” said stand-in captain David Miller after Sunday’s victory.
“The last 12-18 months as a squad, we’ve been really consistent, building really nice combinations and sticking to our blueprint really well … it’s great to see the performances and results coming through, especially leading into a World Cup.”
The Proteas have developed a reputation as slow starters. This rang true once again in the T20I series, starting with a heavy 41-run defeat in the first match in Bristol on Wednesday.
South Africa’s performance in the field was particularly a shambles as they dropped Jonny Bairstow – who went on to score 90 off 53 – on four different occasions.
The South Africans picked up their performance in every department in Cardiff 24 hours later when they levelled the series, defeating England emphatically by 58 runs, thanks to an unbeaten 96 by Rilee Rossouw.
The three-match series drew to a close on Sunday with the Proteas securing their most complete performance yet, with one eye on the T20I World Cup in Australia in October.
Opening batter, Hendricks struck his third consecutive half-century in the series as he shepherded the South African innings well to a challenging total of 191-5 with 70 runs off 50 deliveries, striking nine fours.
England were never in the hunt, bowled out for a paltry 101 in 16.4 overs, as South Africa struck with regularity. The left-arm mystery spin of Shamsi did most of the damage as he recorded career best figures of five for 24 runs in four overs.
Shaky start, strong finish
The deciding match could not have got off to a worse start for South Africa as left-arm swing bowler David Willey bowled a maiden wicket, dismissing Quinton de Kock for a duck, in the first over.
It was all South Africa for the rest of the powerplay as Rilee Rossouw (31 off 18) came in and struck it to all corners, taking South Africa to 54 for one in the first six overs.
Moeen Ali clean bowled Rossouw excellently in the seventh over, a foreshadow of the role spin bowling would play later on.
Aiden Markram and Hendricks then rebuilt the South African innings at the massive stadium as the two batters ran excellently between the wickets, ensuring the scoring rate ticked on in the middle overs.
The pair put on 87 runs off 61 balls in the middle as Hendricks took charge of the scoring while Markram – playing his first match of the series – added an unbeaten 51 off 36 deliveries striking five lusty boundaries.
Hendricks eventually skied a Chris Jordan slower ball in the 17th over which was safely pouched by Jos Buttler.
Miller – playing his 100th T20I match for his country – came in and played a neat cameo of 22 off nine deliveries, striking three fours and the innings’ only six.
Miller was the last South African to lose their wicket. Tristan Stubbs hit two fours in consecutive deliveries off Willey before losing his wicket on the final ball of the innings, trying to go for another big blow. South Africa finished on an impressive 191 for five in their 20 overs.
England got off to a solid start in what was always going to be a tough chase on a big field with a strong South African attack.
Buttler struck Keshav Maharaj for a streaky four down third man. A back-of-a-length delivery that he tried to punch through the covers, hit the outside of his blade to skid past de Kock and into the boundary.
Buttler tried the same shot the very next ball but found a slightly thicker edge and was caught easily by Lungi Ngidi at short third man, leaving England at 28-1 in the fourth over.
His opening partner, Jason Roy, didn’t last much longer as Anrich Nortje’s extra pace was the undoing of the opening batter.
Left-handers Dawid Malan and Moeen Ali came and went quickly. Two excellent grabs dismissed the two middle-order batters. First Nortje dove forward from backward square leg to hold onto Malan’s leg glance off Andile Phehlukwayo’s bowling before a ridiculous grab by Stubbs – with his weaker left-hand – ended Moeen’s brief stay.
A leaning edge off Ali’s blade, from the bowling of Markram, saw Stubbs running back from short cover before launching himself sideways and extending his arm to grab the ball that looked to have passed him, with one hand.
England were in a pickle at 59 for four after 10 overs, at that stage but things only got worse for the home side.
Shamsi then came in and picked up the next five wickets. Liam Livingstone, Sam Curran, Willey, Chris Jordan and Adil Rashid all fell victim to the spin wizard.
At one point Shamsi was on track to become only the second South African men’s player to pick up a T20I hat-trick when he dismissed Curran and Willey in consecutive deliveries in the 14th over but Jordan was good enough to temporarily keep Shamsi out.
Maharaj picked up the last wicket of Bairstow in the 17th over to put the home side out of their misery, dismissed for 101 and losing by a mammoth 90 runs.
The Proteas selectors have a good headache, particularly with the batting lineup, heading into the T20I World Cup in Australia later this year.
“I think it’s a really healthy space to be in with a lot of competition. The guys have established a really nice squad. A lot of the new guys coming through, putting up their hands is great to see. That’s where we want to be. We would rather have those headaches than having no options… It’s a great space to be in as a team,” said Miller.
Hendricks, Rossouw and Stubbs were on the periphery of the first choice Proteas side before the tour to England. However, strong performances by each of them has made selecting the best six batters a tough task for the selectors.
Hendricks was rather fortuitous in selection as he might not have had any gametime in the series had regular captain Temba Bavuma not been ruled out of the entire England tour as Hendricks came in as a like-for-like replacement for the skipper.
Hendricks was awarded the player of the series for striking half centuries in each T20I match (57, 53, 70). He scored a total of 180 runs at an average of 60 and a strike rate just a shade under 160 as he provided every innings with impetus and stability.
Rossouw played his first match for South Africa in six years in the first T20I in Bristol. He was ineligible for selection because of his Kolpack contract but once that ended his domestic performances were too good to ignore by selectors.
After an iffy start in the first T20I where he looked stiff and admitted to being nervous, he came back in Cardiff to strike a career best unbeaten 96 runs off only 55 balls to help set-up South Africa’s series levelling win.
After the early wicket of De Kock in the final match, Rossouw once again showed his power and ability to take on any attack as he raced to 31 runs off only 18 balls. His series strike rate of 170 coming in at No 3 provides South Africa with a proper power hitter in the top order.
Stubbs played only two T20I matches for South Africa before the tour to England, not getting the opportunity to bat in either previous outing. Nonetheless, the occasion he strode out to the middle to represent his country was a moment people who witnessed it won’t forget any time soon.
Stubbs walked in with the Proteas on 86 for four after 10 overs, his side chasing an enormous 235 for victory. The 21-year-old went on to score 72 runs off only 28 balls in a scintillating innings that contained two fours and eight gigantic sixes.
Although Stubbs was unable to take his side to victory, he provided a preview of what he is capable of on the international stage.
The Proteas selectors will be scratching their heads as regulars Rassie van der Dussen, Bavuma and Markram (first two games) sat out exquisite batting performances – under pressure, against a world class bowling line-up – by the side.
However, with the white-ball leg of the series now over, both teams will turn their attention to the three match Test series which kicks off at the Home of Cricket, Lord’s on 17 August. DM