Kieswetter and Buttler blow Proteas away
A blistering fourth-wicket partnership from Craig Kieswetter and Jos Buttler set England on their way to a 28-run triumph over South Africa that squared the NatWest International T20 series.
In a contest reduced by rain to 11 overs per side, Kieswetter hit three fours and as many sixes in a 32-ball half-century, while Somerset team-mate Buttler brought the Edgbaston crowd to their feet with a sumptuous demonstration of power and panache.
Buttler was the chief protagonist as Wayne Parnell saw South Africa's 10th over disappear for 32 runs; only once has a set of six yielded more runs in a T20 international.
The Somerset duo's stand of 48 in 14 deliveries saw England post 118 for five and, despite a typically stylish 36 by Hashim Amla, a disciplined effort from the hosts’ bowling unit meant South Africa were never truly in the hunt.
Persistent downpours throughout the afternoon resulted in a sodden outfield, meaning a truncated contest was in prospect when Proteas captain AB de Villiers won the toss and asked England to bat.
Hampshire spinner Danny Briggs was handed an international T20 debut in one of three changes to the England side, while Francois du Plessis and Parnell were given chances to stake their claims for the tourists.
Kieswetter and Michael Lumb, England's opening partnership when they claimed the World Twenty20 title in the Caribbean - were reunited at the top of the order but the latter was bowled by Parnell after Morne Morkel's erratic opening over had gone for 16.
Luke Wright and Eoin Morgan perished hitting out against some stifling spin and South Africa's slow bowlers - led by the impeccable Johan Botha with figures of 2-19 from three overs - appeared to have England in trouble as they did at the Emirates Durham ICG on Saturday.
Yet Kieswetter remained and launched a towering straight six off Botha's final ball, lighting the fuse for Buttler's pyrotechnics.
Two brutal maximums disappeared over Parnell's head before the 22-year-old pulled out his trademark scoop shot for a brace of delicate fours through fine-leg. A pair of no-balls extended the left-arm seamer's stint and Buttler ensured he disappeared once more over midwicket for his troubles.
Kieswetter and Jonny Bairstow fell to Morne Morkel in the final over - the former after bringing up his fifty with a six - leaving Buttler unbeaten on 32 from just 10 deliveries.
Briggs opened the bowling tidily for England and Tim Bresnan shared the new ball to castle Richard Levi with an off-cutter.
Amla was his usual silky-smooth self but, after the recalled Du Plessis became Briggs' first scalp, he holed out to deep midwicket along with skipper de Villiers in the same Graeme Swann over and South Africa's race was run at 53 for four after seven.
England's subsequent diligence meant 90 for five was the sum of the tourists' efforts, and Stuart Broad's charges now prepare for Sri Lanka and the defence of their title.
Live Text Commentary
South Africa Innings
10:10pm - END OF INNINGS; SA 90/5 - ENGLAND WIN BY 28 RUNS!! - Just as in the one-day internationals, the two sides cannot be separated as the NatWest International T20 rubber ends one apiece. Kieswetter continued his fine recent form with a superb fifty, but it is Buttler's 10th-over assault on Parnell that will live long in the memory. A disciplined bowling performance backed all that up superbly and England head to Sri Lanka in good spirits.
10:08pm - Oh dear, a stellar England fielding display suffers an unexpected blip. Kallis skies Dernbach into the off side but Lumb misjudges and the ball falls through his hands. It matters not because...
10:05pm - The batsmen crossed and Albie Morkel responds to the loss by smearing Bresnan over deep square-leg for the full works. Nevertheless, with he and Jacques Kallis requiring 41 from the last over, I'd say England are home and hosed.
10:03pm - WICKET! Ontong c Morgan b Bresnan 10; SA 69/5 - There'll be no more big hits for Ontong as he can only steer a Bresnan full toss to Morgan at point.
10:00pm - Albie Morkel and Justin Ontong have little more joy from Swann until the latter sends one sailing high over deep midwicket for six. It barely ruins fine figures of 2-24 from three.
9:55pm - Jade Dernbach makes an unusually late entry into the attack but it bothers the Surrey seamer not one jot. His usual box of tricks costs only two runs. Brilliant stuff and at 55 for four after eight South Africa need something special - Buttler-esque perhaps?
9:47pm –WICKET! Amla c Bairstow b Swann 36; SA 53/4 - Out! Amla is out! Swann has really turned the screw in this over and he bookends it with a virtually identical dismissal – Bairstow displaying the handling of a wicketkeeper once more. A fine 36 from 27 ends a remarkable summer for Amla, but his side’s hopes may have departed with him.
9:46pm – WICKET! de Villiers c Bairstow b Swann 2; SA 51/3 - And Broad’s men have their rewards for building the pressure. Opposite number de Villiers launches a mighty sweep at the first ball of the seventh over but only succeeds in picking out Bairstow on the midwicket fence. He’s happier with the fireworks this time!
9:44pm - Graeme Swann and Broad in the attack now and they’re keeping this more than tight enough. A four off each man for the irrepressible Amla, but England are on course.
9:37pm - WICKET! Du Plessis c Morgan b Briggs 8; SA 34/2 - It's a maiden international T20 wicket for Briggs as Francois du Plessis gets a leading edge trying to work him into the on side and leaves Eoin Morgan with a simple take at mid-off. Skipper AB de Villiers is the new man at the crease.
9:35pm - We’re very well fed here in the Edgbaston press facilities, but that cut by Amla for a four off Briggs – changing ends after captain Stuart Broad bowled the third over for the cost of 11 runs - is nevertheless one of the more delicious things I’ve seen all day. Thoroughly in keeping with his glorious summer.
9:27pm -WICKET! Levi b Bresnan 1; SA 9/1 - A change of tactics from England sees Danny Briggs open the bowling on debut and a tidy effort cost nine as Hashim Amla shows some unfamiliar discomfort. Richard Levi’s unproductive tour is brought to a close moments later as a pumped-up Tim Bresnan does for him with the off-cutter.
9:07pm – END OF INNINGS; Eng 118/5 - A single apiece from new man Tim Bresnan and Buttler (it was from a scoop, what else?!) round off the England innings, where just 11 minutes of belligerence from Somerset’s big hitters have presented South Africa with a challenging task.
9:05pm – WICKET! Bairstow b M Morkel 4; Eng 116/4 - The man who is now looking forward to Bonfire Night with considerably less relish (see 8:12pm) works his first ball down to third man for four but is undone by a Morne Morkel yorker when trying to repeat the trick.
9:04pm – WICKET! Kieswetter b M Morkel 50; Eng 112/4 - Kieswetter tries the Buttler Scoop – and who can blame him – only to see middle and off disturbed. A fine innings and an astonishing fourth-wicket partnership of 48 from 14 deliveries comes to an end.
9:03pm – FIFTY! (Kieswetter 31b 3x4 3x6) - Morne Morkel is short and smashed over square leg for Kieswetter to bring up a fine half-century, but…..
9:00pm – Parnell is understandably rattled and it’s safe to say Buttler has well and truly arrived at this level. His trademark paddle stroke brings up a pair of fours and two no-balls mean Parnell’s misery must continue. A brutal thump over midwicket gives the Somerset man another six. That’s 32 from the over – the second most expensive in international T20 history – and England are 106 for six heading into the last.
8:55pm - The final ball of Botha’s third over gets the treatment as Kieswetter launches another mighty straight six. Jos Buttler, who joined him when Morgan fell, apparently likes the idea and plants the returning Parnell over his head for consecutive maximums. Where have those shackles gone?
8:51pm – WICKET! Morgan c Ontong b Botha 5; Eng 64/3 - Botha must be a pesky customer to face – just so hard to get away. In trying to do so, Morgan succeeds only in skying high into the Birmingham night. Justin Ontong comes in from long-off to hold his nerve.
8:48pm - Shackles broken! Kieswetter hoists a mighty six down the ground off Jacques Kallis. England need plenty more of that, though, as the rope is not breached for the rest of the over. It's 63 for two with three remaining.
8:46pm - Botha, very much one of the unsung heroes in this fine South Africa side, is turning in another impressive display. His second over cost only two runs, and he has 1-8 from two. England are 52 for two with four overs remaining and the onus is on Kieswetter and Morgan to break the shackles.
8:40pm - Eoin Morgan is at the crease now and could be England's key man. The 50 is up from 40 deliveries.
8:36pm - WICKET! Wright c Amla b Botha 6; Eng 43/2 - Having made six from nine balls, Wright looks to hit out with a slog-sweep, but succeeds only in top-edging Botha behind square on the off side.
8:35pm – Albie Morkel came on to show his brother how it was done with a miserly third over to conclude the truncated powerplay and England have to wait until the fifth set of six for their next four off the bat – Kieswetter ploughing Johan Botha back down the ground.
8:20pm - WICKET! Lumb b Parnell 5; Eng 20/1 - Lumb drives Parnell's first delivery for a sumptuous cover-driven four but his race is run two balls later as the South African squeezes one through the gate to uproot middle stump. Luke Wright is the new batsman.
8:19pm - Morne Morkel is first up for South Africa and his radar is somewhat askew. Perhaps it was the fireworks. A huge leg-side wide darts to the fence and is followed by another with the rangy quick sprawled on the pitch. The next two legal deliveries are nonchalantly clipped through the on-side for successive boundaries by Craig Kieswetter and it’s 16 from the over.
8:12pm - Out come England to the familiar strains of Jerusalem for the final time this summer. A less familiar sight was one of the on-field fireworks nigh on taking Jonny Bairstow's head off. The Yorkshire tyro will be alert when the action gets going.
8:00pm- South Africa paceman Dale Steyn has been awarded a well-earned rest at the end of a fabulous summer and is replaced by left-armer Wayne Parnell, while Francois du Plessis earns the chance to impress ahead of the World Twenty20. JP Duminy gets to put his feet up with a starting place all but assured in Sri Lanka.
7:55pm - Hampshire spinner Danny Briggs comes in for his international T20 debut at the expense of Samit Patel as one of three changes to the England line-up. It’s Nottinghamshire in for Nottinghamshire at the top of the innings, where Michael Lumb returns to the England XI for the first time since last June in place of county colleague Alex Hales. Elsewhere, Tim Bresnan is preferred to Steven Finn.
7:52pm - SOUTH AFRICA WIN THE TOSS AND FIELD - AB de Villiers calls correctly and understandably asks England to bat first, no doubt confident his seamers can find some assistance on this damp evening.
7:45pm - Ladies and gentlemen, we have a game - one of 11 overs per side! Play will get underway at 8:12pm, 20 minutes after the rescheduled toss.
7:30pm - Umpires Illingworth and Bailey continue to stalk the outfield as the Blotters ramp up their mileage. There will be another inspection at 7:40pm.
6:50pm - Damp areas around the square are understandably a sticking point for umpires Richard Illingworth and Rob Bailey. The earliest start time on the agenda is 8:00pm, which would mean a game of 13 overs per side.
6:45pm - An update on the weather situation: Excess water on the covers from this afternoon means a full inspection has not been possible. A re-inspection will take place at 7:15pm. In the meantime, the groundstaff go about their work with impressive diligence.
6:20pm - On Sky’s television coverage, Nick Knight – a man more than familiar with these parts – believes we could be looking at a 7:30/8:00pm start, and the emerging blue skies seem to agree with him. It can only be hoped the locals are treated to a fine evening of cricket following Birmingham’s wretched luck with weather for internationals this summer.
6:00pm - Word has reached the Edgbaston press box that the umpires will make an inspection at 6:30pm if - and hopefully not too big an if as the skies look a touch less threatening – there is no more rain in the meantime.
5:55pm - Frequent showers have been the order of the afternoon in the second city. As I type the latest deluge appears to have subsided, but with the groundstaff already tending to sizable puddles in the outfield, the outlook is not fantastic. You'd like to think my lousy weather forecaster's ramble would be the last we hear of rain this evening. I fear that may not be the case....
5:45pm - Unfortunately there is a strong chance tonight’s narrative will be more John Kettley than John Arlott; the summarising more Michael Fish than Michael Atherton; the delivery more Ulrika Jonsson than Mitchell Johnson. Yes, it’s raining and raining hard in Birmingham.
5:35pm - Hello and welcome to live coverage of the third and final installment of the NatWest International T20 Series from Edgbaston as England look to level the three-match rubber against South Africa. Monday's clash at Old Trafford eventually fell victim to the rain after the tourists recorded an impressive seven-wicket triumph at the Emirates Durham ICG.