Rain rules in Manchester
England’s bid to level the NatWest International T20 series with South Africa was disrupted by rain as the elements scuppered any hope of a result at Old Trafford.
After play had been reduced to just nine overs a side following a series of showers, the in-form Hashim Amla continued to serve as England’s nemesis this summer by blasting 47 off 30 balls to guide his side to 77 for five.
The hosts, who had won the toss and elected to field, struggled to get going in reply and reached 29 for two from 4.1 overs before Mother Nature intervened once again to bring a premature end to a frustrating evening in Lancashire.
Stuart Broad’s decision to insert the tourists was perhaps influenced by the rain, which was forecast to arrive just after play was due to start. But the precipitation made an earlier-than-expected intervention as umpires Rob Bailey and Richard Illingworth hauled the players off right before Steven Finn prepared to send down the game’s first delivery.
The covers came on and off for the next 45 minutes, mirroring the sporadic showers, before a heavier downpour ensured the match would have to be shortened, with play beginning at 8.45pm.
When the contest did eventually start, Finn had Richard Levi caught down the leg side off the first ball of the match and then snared AB de Villiers at the start of his next set of six.
Yet Amla, recalled in place of the out-of-sorts Francois du Plessis, wasted little time in reprising his role as England’s tormentor-in-chief with an aggressive knock including seven fours.
Luke Wright took the scalp of Albie Morkel before JP Duminy and Justin Ontong quickly departed, but the prized wicket of Amla eluded England.
Eoin Morgan dropped the opener off Graeme Swann on 31 and he continued to score freely in tandem with Jacques Kallis at the death.
England stuttered in their innings, with Craig Kieswetter taking five balls to get off the mark.
Alex Hales provided some fireworks for the fans who braved the inclement weather with the game’s only maximum, a slice over third man, and Sussex’s Wright, playing in place of Ravi Bopara, compiled a brisk 14.
However, when Wright departed after sending an Albie Morkel slower ball to his brother Morne on the square-leg fence, the rain made its last hurrah to spoil any hope of a result.
10:07pm - MATCH ABANDONED - That’s all, folks. The rain is back and it has ended any hope of a result being produced here. The two teams will head to Edgbaston for the final game of the three-match rubber with South Africa still 1-0 ahead.
10:03pm - RAIN STOPS PLAY - Seamer Albie Morkel replaces his brother Morne and strikes with his first delivery. Wright doesn’t anticipate the slower ball, merely picking out the bowler’s sibling on the square-leg boundary to depart for 14. And here comes the rain - the players are going off.
9:59pm - Johan Botha, who proved a menace to England at Durham, comes on. Wright wasn’t involved in the north east and shows a fearless approach to a full-toss, rotating his wrists to cash in with a leg-side four. The spinner serves up another full delivery which Hales clips off his toes for one. A single from Wright ends the over but England need boundaries.
9:54pm - Wright lifts a mammoth shot over Peterson at midwicket, but it just fails to reach the rope and the fielder does well to stop a four. Morkel responds with a shorter ball and then a fine yorker, off which Hales scampers through for a single. Wright wafts at air to end the over. England are 19 for one after three.
9:50pm - WICKET! Kieswetter c Peterson b Steyn 1; Eng 3/1 - AB de Villiers gives Dale Steyn the nod from the other end and Kieswetter’s frustration gets the better of him as he swipes one in Robin Peterson’s direction at mid-on. He makes a superb leaping catch to dismiss him. England’s boundary drought is ended, though, with the first maximum of the match as Hales hoists a six down to third man.
9:44pm - Craig Kieswetter and Alex Hales are England’s opening pair. But the former toils against Morne Morkel with a series of swings and misses. Morkel sends down four scoreless balls before a single finally gets England off the mark.
South Africa Innings
9:22pm END OF INNINGS - SA 77/5 - Jacques Kallis clips Dernbach over mid-off and although Buttler darts around to meet it, he only succeeds in palming it onto the rope. Amla smashes the Surrey seamer back over his header but Bairstow keeps it to two. Dernbach responds with a slower ball and Amla just dabs it down to square leg for a single. Of more concern to England, the rain’s started to sheet down once again.
9:18pm - WICKET! Ontong c Kieswetter b Dernbach 1; SA 49/5 - Wright's one-over spell ends with Dernbach replacing him. The Surrey seamer makes a breakthrough as Justin Ontong balloons one behind him. Kieswetter watches it closely and holds on as he falls backwards.
9:15pm - WICKET! Duminy c&b Swann 5; SA 47/4 - Swann returns to complete his spell and Amla skies one to Eoin Morgan, who drops it! England do have a wicket, though, as JP Duminy gets underneath one. Swann steps back and sticks out his right arm to take a fine catch.
9:08pm – WICKET! A Morkel c Bairstow b Wright 3; SA 37/3 - Broad introduces Luke Wright into the attack and the move pays dividends as Albie Morkel fails to get hold of one, merely looping it into the hands of Bairstow.
9:05pm - Graeme Swann is into the attack and it’s a much more economical over. Just five singles come from the spinner’s set of six.
9:01pm - De Villiers and Amla crossed when the former departed and the form man responds with another clubbed boundary over the covers. He retains the strike from a Finn dead ball and flicks the Middlesex paceman off his hips for four more. It’s a trio of fours for Amla too as he plunders a stray Finn delivery to the rope with the final ball of the powerplay.
8:58pm – WICKET! De Villiers c Dernbach b Finn 1; SA 20/2 - Finn returns and repeats his first-ball trick by snaring De Villiers as the tourists’ captain chips to a back-pedalling Jade Dernbach at mid-off.
8:54pm - Captain Stuart Broad will partner Finn in this fleeting opening attack. Amla prods his first delivery back at him before flashing at one outside off stump for four. The opener then lifts the ball over Jos Buttler for three more. Jonny Bairstow does well to scamper round on the boundary rope behind wicketkeeper Kieswetter to stop Amla finishing the set of six with another four.
8:49pm - AB de Villiers comes to the crease and is off the mark with a single through the leg side. That brings Hashim Amla on strike and he gives a timely reminder of his current purple patch with a cut four before Finn’s next ball races to the boundary off the batsman's legs.
8:44pm – WICKET! Levi c Kieswetter b Finn 0; SA 0/1 - Steven Finn starts the over he almost began over two hours ago. Well, that was worth the wait! Richard Levi nicks his first ball down the leg side to Craig Kieswetter.
8:41pm - Jerusalem has already been played and the fireworks have been fired, so the players emerge for the start of play without the fanfare this time. There’s been no rain for half-an-hour or so now and, barring another last-minute intervention, we’ll be under way shortly.
8:19pm - We’re still optimistic of some cricket tonight under the Old Trafford floodlights. Provided the rain does not return, the two teams will contest a nine-overs-a-side match at 8:45pm. That would mean bowlers could complete a maximum of two sets of six each.
8:04pm - There is understandably a certain degree of trepidation from the groundstaff as they tip-toe onto the field to survey the scene once more. The rain has halted, however, and the covers are peeled back to cheers from the crowd.
7:53pm - The covers are no longer yo-yoing on and off because the rain is falling heavily now in Lancashire. Those hopeful souls left in the stands have been told play can start as late as 9:10pm.
7:26pm - No surprise to hear the contest has been reduced to 18 overs a side. They may be lucky to get that if and when the match eventually begins, but it can be played with a minimum five overs a side.
7:20pm - Oh, Mother Nature, you big tease. Just as the umpires out on the pitch seem ready to give the green light to get play started, the rain returns. The covers are on and this could be the heaviest bit of precipitation we’ve had.
7:15pm - Play was set to start now but the sheets are being taken off again as I type. Hopefully we will get this match up and running shortly.
7:09pm - Perhaps the Carpets singing is intrinsically linked to the rain because the covers are back on again. The weather cannot seem to make its mind up and that 7:15pm restart looks highly unlikely now.
7:07pm - The England players are back out on the pitch warming up now while Inspiral Carpets keep the restless crowd occupied. Play is scheduled to begin again at 7:15pm and it will still be 20 overs a side.
6:54pm - The showers have relented and the groundstaff are out on the field now. They’ve removed the covers so it looks as though not too much play, if any at all, will be lost.
6:43pm - The rain’s falling fairly steadily out there now and I’m afraid to say the predictions were that this would continue throughout the evening. Local band Inspiral Carpets entertained the crowd before play and they may be required for an encore if things do not improve.
6:30pm - RAIN DELAYS START - That is what is known in Olympics parlance as a false start. The players take to the field, with Steven Finn about to open the bowling, and umpires Richard Illingworth and Rob Bailey haul them off. The covers are on and the start will be delayed.
6:25pm - Richard Levi, scorer of the fastest ever international T20 century, and Amla, England’s nemesis this summer, will take to the crease for the Proteas with the rain still holding off for the moment.
England: Craig Kieswetter, Alex Hales, Luke Wright, Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Samit Patel, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Steven Finn, Jade Dernbach.
South Africa: Richard Levi, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Justin Ontong, Albie Morkel, Johan Botha, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel.
6:15pm - ENGLAND WIN THE TOSS AND FIELD FIRST - AB de Villiers calls incorrectly and Broad, perhaps mindful of the conditions, chooses to put the tourists in. There is one change for England with Luke Wright recalled in place of Bopara at number three. South Africa make two changes with the in-form Hashim Amla replacing the out-of-sorts Francois du Plessis and Morne Morkel strengthening the attack in place of Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
6:05pm - Some encouraging signs here in Manchester. Just as quickly as they were on, the covers are now off. The few umbrellas which had sprung up across the ground are now tucked away too.
6:00pm - Those showers we were warned about have arrived earlier than anticipated. The covers are on and the toss will be delayed by 10 minutes.
5:50pm - England were limited to just 118 for seven in the north east and Broad told ecb.co.uk he hopes the top order can find some form ahead of their World Twenty20 title defence in Sri Lanka. The skipper also believes Twenty20 cricket provides the ideal opportunity for Ravi Bopara to rediscover his touch with the willow.
5:40pm - Today’s double header has started well, with England women extending their unbeaten streak to 19 games in beating West Indies by 28 runs. The weather may hinder their male counterparts’ hopes of redemption, though, with the forecasters predicting the heavens may open on Manchester shortly after play is scheduled to start at 6:30pm. However, it’s completely dry at the minute so let’s hope they’re wrong.
5:30pm - Good evening and welcome to live coverage of the second match of the NatWest International T20 Series from Old Trafford as England look to level the three-match rubber against South Africa. Stuart Broad’s men suffered a seven-wicket defeat to the Proteas at the Emirates Durham ICG on Saturday, but will looking to make amends in this quick turnaround.