In Depth

Eoin Morgan is left frustrated as England lose their nerve in T20 thriller

South Africa take a 1-0 lead in the series after a one-run victory in East London

1st Twenty20 international
  • South Africa innings: 177-8 (20 overs)
  • England innings: 176-9 (20 overs)
  • South Africa won by one run 

England snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the first of three Twenty20 matches against South Africa to leave captain Eoin Morgan a frustrated man.

“We should be winning that ten times out of ten,” Morgan told the BBC’s Test Match Special podcast. “It’s about learning, going through a process we’ve gone through over a number of years to try to get better.”

With the 2020 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup taking place in Australia in October and November, England are using the three-match series in South Africa as the first stage of their preparations for the tournament. 

Having been crowned world champions in the 50-over format last year, England’s aim is to double up in the T20 but judging by last night’s one-run defeat they have a lot to learn.

Spin twins

South Africa batted first in East London, and got off to a flier, smashing 97 in the first nine overs for the loss of just one wicket. But England fought back with the spin of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid returning combined figures of 2-45 from their eight overs.

That restricted the Proteas to a modest 177-8 on what was a reliable batting strip. 

Although Jos Buttler fell cheaply, Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow cracked a blistering 72-run partnership for the second wicket before the departure of the latter precipitated a familiar middle-order collapse. 

From 132-2 after 14 overs, the tourists slumped to 176-9 in their 20 overs with the outstanding Lungi Ngidi taking 3-30 in his four overs.

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Keep calm and carry on

Morgan was particularly angry with himself for holing out for 52 when a calmer head would have steered his side home. 

“Getting out off the last ball of the 19th over was horrifically bad for me, given my experience and how many games I’ve played,” said the England skipper.

Nonetheless, the Irishman said that it’s these sort of games that will prove crucial come October and the T20 World Cup down under. 

“Recently we’ve played in a lot of tight games, but we want to play in as many of these as we can because we want guys exposed to as much pressure as they can be,” explained Morgan.

“You cannot replicate the pressure you’d have in the World Cup, but in situations like that we have to find a way to get over the line.”

The second match of the T20 series between South Africa and England takes place tomorrow at Kingsmead in Durban.  

England’s tour of South Africa: results and fixtures

  • Test series: England won 3-1  
  • 1st ODI: South Africa won by seven wickets  
  • 2nd ODI: match rained off  
  • 3rd ODI: England won by two wickets (series finished 1-1)  
  • 1st Twenty20 international: South Africa won by one run Friday  
  • Friday 14 February: 2nd T20 at Kingsmead in Durban (4pm GMT, live on Sky Sports) 
  • Sunday 16 February: 3rd T20 at Supersport Park in Centurion (12.30pm GMT, live on Sky Sports)

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