EAST LONDON, South Africa: Seamer Lungi Ngidi defended seven runs in the final over to bowl South Africa to an unlikely one-run victory as England folded at the death in the first Twenty20 international late last night.
England needed seven from their final seven balls with five wickets remaining, but collapsed in the face of Ngidi’s off-cutters on a slow wicket to add five runs for the loss of four wickets.
South Africa had posted 177 for eight in their 20 overs, a record score in East London, but England were cruising when Jason Roy blasted 70 from 38 balls and captain Eoin Morgan an excellent 52 from 34.
The visitors lost their nerve at the finish, though, in what will be a tough lesson at the start of the build-up to the Twenty20 World Cup to be played in Australia in October.
Earlier, South Africa, thanks to the efforts of openers Quinton de Kock (31 off 15 balls) and Temba Bavuma (43 from 27 deliveries), threatened to post a mammoth total after reaching 105 for one from 10 overs.
However, after Moeen Ali had taken one for 22, fellow spinner Adil Rashid (one for 23) and Ben Stokes (one for 24) checked the home side’s progress and they eventually settled for 177 for eight in a three-match series where England are ramping up preparations for this year’s T20 World Cup.
Tom Curran, Mark Wood and Chris Jordan endured a chastening experience up front but the latter came back well in the final over, taking two wickets in as many balls after South Africa were invited to bat first.