BRISTOL: A thrilling 72 by Tristan Stubbs was not enough for South Africa to avoid a 41-run defeat at the hands of England in the opening T20I at the Seat Unique Stadium in Bristol on Wednesday.
In an entertaining run-fest, England batted first and amassed a record total of 234 for six after being pushed into batting first and had an innings that included 20 sixes. Jonny Bairstow shined with 90 off 53 balls while Moeen Ali's 18-ball fifty and Dawid Malan's 23-ball 43 gave him great support.
In the pursuit of 235, the tourists then lost key wickets early on in the chase with only Reeza Hendricks (57 off 33 balls, 9 fours, 1 six) shining as they looked to be heading for a big defeat. But Stubbs, who made his international debut against India in the previous T20I series but did not get to bat in the two games he played, showed remarkable boundary-hitting ability as he clubbed eight sixes and two fours in an electrifying 72 off only 28 balls.
Along the way he recorded the second quickest T20I half century ever for South Africa, but eventually perished with the run-rate sky-rocketing leading to the Proteas finishing on 193 for eight.
One area where South Africa faltered apart from the batting was in the field where they let themselves down by some poor catching, allowing England to amass more runs than it should have. Only pacer Lungi Ngidi impressed from the bowling attack, with a good return of five for 39, his maiden career five-wicket haul, which began by dismissing Jason Roy and Jos Buttler in power-play.
The red-hot Bairstow was put down more than once in his innings of 90 off 53 balls (three fours, eight sixes), with Moeen Ali slamming 52 off 18 balls (two fours, six sixes). The latter's innings saw him post the fastest 50 ever by an Englishman on the international stage. The duo looted 114 runs off the last seven overs to propel England to a daunting total.
The Proteas then lost Quinton de Kock (2) and the returning Rilee Rossouw (4) inside the first two overs, before Hendricks and Heinrich Klaasen (20) got the innings going. After both fell in quick succession, Stubbs began to pick up pace as stand-in captain David Miller (8) fell cheaply.
Once the skipper went, the fit-again all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo (22) picked up the baton and kept turning over the strike, allowing for 19-year-old Stubbs to reach his fifty in only 19 balls. But the 18th over of the chase turned out to be key as Chris Jordan conceded only three runs to end all hope and Stubbs then departed at the start of the penultimate over handing England a win in the T20I series opener.
South Africa will have the chance to make immediate amends and square the series at 1-1 when they face England in the second T20I at Cardiff on Thursday.
Brief Scores: England 234-6 in 20 overs (Jonny Bairstow 90, Moeen Ali 52; Lungi Ngidi 5-39) beat South Africa 193-8 in 20 overs (Tristan Stubbs 72, Reeza Hendricks 57; Richard Gleeson 3-51, Reece Topley 2-29) by 41 runs.