Eoin Morgan credited England’s experience of holding their nerve in close games as a key factor behind their four-wicket win in Paarl.
For the second game in succession, England clinched a last-over victory after South Africa had appeared to be in the stronger position deep into the run-chase. It gives them an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
But although it looked in both games as if England were falling behind their required run-rate, Morgan suggested there were deep reserves of confidence in the dressing room that enabled them to sustain belief even under pressure.
While England have rarely played anything like a full-strength T20 side since the 2016 T20 World Cup, they have enjoyed great success in 50-over cricket utilising a squad with the same nucleus of players. Over the last four or five years, they went to No. 1 in the ODI rankings before sealing their legacy “by the barest of margins” in the 50-over World Cup final.
At the same time, more of their players have gained experience in the top T20 leagues – there were 10 England-qualified players at this year’s IPL – providing them with greater familiarity of the pressures that come with playing on the biggest stages.
“The experience helps,” Morgan told Sky Sports. “Knowing how to win is one thing, but having that experience in our playing XI helps massively. Having been there before, we can hold our nerve.
“We weren’t up with the run-rate but, with a long batting line-up and a short boundary, you’re only one over or two maximums away [from catching up] the whole time. We have guys who can hit boundaries down the order.”
Dawid Malan made a similar point. Malan claimed the player of the match award for his well-paced half-century in a relatively low-scoring match and afterwards expressed the view that England’s experience in white-ball cricket should bode well for their T20 World Cup campaign in India next year.
“The core of the team has played together for the last five years,” Malan said. “They won that World Cup, they have experience of playing white-ball cricket, they play in the IPL and other big tournaments. They’re used to playing on the big stage and getting over the line. That’s a great habit to have as a team.
“There are so many match-winners in that side. If you look at the batting line-up, everyone can win you a game.”
On this occasion – as so often in his recent rise to the No,1 T20I ranking – it was Malan who won the contest, largely by keeping faith in his ability to catch up later in the innings after a tricky start to England’s run-chase, particularly against the wristspinner Tabraiz Shamsi. With five overs remaining, he had made 25 from 30 balls but then turned up the tempo to crack 30 from his final 10.
“I found it really hard,” Malan said. “Especially against the spinners. You’re not used to them bowling that slowly in T20 cricket and, with a big boundary to one side and the wind, it wasn’t really an option to take them on.
“But with the short boundary on one side, you back yourself to be able to catch up. You’re always one over from catching up.
“The core of the team that played in the 50-over World Cup are well-versed in winning. If we can keep winning these tight games, it will put us in good stead ahead of the T20 World Cup.”
The match also represented something of a happy homecoming for Malan. While he was born in Surrey, he was brought up and schooled in Paarl. He made his debut in first-class and List A cricket on this very ground in 2006 and his parents still live in the area.
“I made my first-class debut here,” he said, “so it’s nice to come home and win a game for England.
“Funnily enough, when I was fielding on one side of the ground, my high school coach was one of the guys throwing the ball back. And there was a guy the stands who helps me out by throwing me balls when I come back to South Africa and visit my parents. So there were two guys who have played quite a big role in my cricket at the ground in some capacity.
“It would have been fantastic to get a crowd in. And it would have been nice to have my parents here.”
Both Morgan and Malan also praised England’s bowlers who restricted South Africa to a total Morgan described as “a long way under par”.
“Our bowlers set that game up for us,” Malan said. “And because they set it up, we could take a bit of time.”
“Everyone in the changing room will applaud the bowling unit which helped keep South Africa to a total that was a long way under par,” Morgan said. “Everyone contributed and the wickets were shared around. The bowlers did an excellent job.”
Ishant Sharma gets stitches on bowling hand, but ‘expected to recover in time’ for England Tests
The fast bowler hurt himself while trying to stop a Ross Taylor drive on the last day of the WTC final
Sharma tried to stop a drive from Ross Taylor in what turned out to be the penultimate over of the final. He left the field with his hand bleeding, having bowled only two balls in his seventh over, with Jasprit Bumrah completing it.
“Ishant has had multiple stitches on his middle and fourth finger in his right hand. However, it is not very serious,” a BCCI official was quoted as saying by PTI. “The stitches will be off in around ten days and with six weeks left for the first Test against England, he is expected to recover in time.”
The Indian team is having a break of three weeks after the conclusion of the WTC final, which New Zealand won by eight wickets.
“The squad travelled together to London. From here they can all leave for their respective destinations within the UK for a 20-day break,” the official said.
However, once the team reassembles in London on July 14 and proceeds to Nottingham, they are unlikely to get warm-up first-class games against English county sides. They will instead play intra-squad games at the Riverside ground in Durham.
“Well, that doesn’t depend on us. We obviously wanted first-class games, which I believe have not been given to us,” Kohli had said. “I don’t know what the reasons for that are. But yeah, other than that I think our preparation time will be ample for us to be ready for the first Test.”
While it is understood that the BCCI had requested the ECB for a few practice games, the Covid-19 situation won’t allow any such plan to go ahead.
“Due to Covid-19 protocols, they will play two intra-squad four-day matches before the first Test in August,” an ECB spokesperson told PTI on Friday. Asked if there is any chance of a game against county sides, the spokesperson said, “No”.
In England, cricketers from various counties are regularly being tested for Covid-19 but are not being kept in any bubble. But the Indian team would again be in a bubble once they move to Durham.
“The domestic cricketers of England not being in a bubble is an issue for sure. That’s why the games in Durham will be intra-squad ones,” the BCCI official said.
India are currently travelling with 24 players – 20 in the official squad and four reserves – which would thus allow them to play intra-squad games.
Eng vs SL 2021 – Jos Buttler ruled out of Sri Lanka white-ball series with calf injury
Dawid Malan added to ODI squad after MRI scans reveal small calf tear
Buttler, England’s vice-captain and wicketkeeper, scored an unbeaten 68 opening the batting in the first T20I. According to the ECB, he “felt tightness and discomfort” at the end of the game and was sent for an MRI scan on Thursday morning, which revealed a small tear. He sat out the second T20I, which England won by five wickets.
England had already suggested they may use the Sri Lanka T20Is to experiment, with Jonny Bairstow moving up to open in Buttler’s absence – although he made a three-ball duck as England initially struggled in their chase of 112. Liam Livingstone, whose unbeaten 29 helped secure victory, regularly opens in T20 cricket and could also deputise.
Dawid Malan, the No. 1-ranked T20I batter, has been added to the ODI squad, with Bairstow and Sam Billings in contention to take the gloves in the 50-over format. Billings scored his maiden ODI hundred last summer and would have been vying for a middle-order berth, regardless of Buttler’s availability.
“In terms of ODIs I had a really good summer last year and averaged 83 in that format so I would be pretty disappointed if I didn’t get a gig but this team is a very hard one to get into to,” he said.
England have already secured the T20I series ahead Saturday’s third match, at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. The teams will then play three ODIs, at Chester-le-Street, The Oval and Bristol.
ENG vs SL 2nd T20I – Mickey Arthur on England and Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s head coach said he wants the batsmen to be more proactive against a world-class England attack
“Just not enough runs again,” Arthur told the BBC, when asked for his take on his side’s defeat. “We’re coming up against a really good bowling attack. They’re ranked No. 1 in the world, we’re ranked No. 9, and you can see the difference. We’ve started a journey with a young team and for us it’s about getting better, competing, learning from every game and every experience and getting better and better as we go along.
“It’s tough. We’re consistently talking about freedom, about taking the handbrake off as a batting unit. But you can only bat as well as you’re allowed to and I thought England were world-class with the lengths they hit. They put us under a lot of pressure with the bat.
“We can be more proactive and we’ve got to go back and work on that. We can walk around the crease a little bit more and try to do different things but our batters are learning all the time, particularly in these conditions. We’ve got a really exciting batting unit in our conditions but it’s about transferring those skills to conditions outside our own environment.”
“I thought we bowled really well,” he said. “Our fielding has gone up to another level. Fielding is all about attitude, it’s measurable, and I think the guys are getting better and better with that. We’re really excited with our bowling unit and we’ve got a couple of guys that are injured as well, so when we get them back we’ll be good.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
MLB13 hours ago
Follow live: Red Sox's Nick Pivetta working on no-hitter at Tampa
Soccer4 days ago
Euro 2020, European Championships 2021, news, Billy Gilmour COVID-19, coronavirus, Ousmane Dembele, update, injury
Cricket10 hours ago
Australia in West Indies 2021
MLB3 days ago
New York Mets OF Michael Conforto returning Tuesday; Joey Lucchesi set for Tommy John surgery
MLB3 days ago
Cleveland Indians expect MLB wins leader Aaron Civale to miss time with finger injury
Soccer3 days ago
England star Jack Grealish passes Man City transfer test with Czech Republic masterclass
Soccer3 days ago
England player ratings vs Czech Republic: Trio stake claim for potential France clash
Motorsport3 days ago
Daniel Ricciardo speaks McLaren, Lando Norris, and missing Australia