Dawid Malan left himself stranded on 99 not out as he and Jos Buttler fired England to a series whitewash over South Africa with a stunning run chase in Cape Town.
Heading to Newlands 2-0 up Eoin Morgan’s side were presented with their stiffest challenge yet – a target of 192 on a used pitch – and conquered by nine wickets thanks to a staggering stand worth 167 in just 85 balls.
Malan, fresh from a man-of-the-match showing in Paarl, was in sensational form as he smashed five sixes and 11 fours in his 47-ball stay, but was so laser-focused on the result he left himself short of a second century in the format by running a quick single to win it. With 14 balls still remaining, it denied him a well-earned and inevitable ton alongside Buttler’s unbeaten 67.
The moment we secured a 3-0 series victory 💪pic.twitter.com/AorqeCXYZG
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) December 1, 2020
The brash and brilliant nature of the pursuit speaks volumes of this team’s deep well of self-confidence and positions them firmly among the favourites for next year’s 20-over World Cup. Rivals be warned, this is a side who never count themselves out.
The tourists were far from perfect with the ball, with Rassie van Dussen (74no) and Faf du Plessis (52no) also excellent with a fierce century partnership of their own, but there was a landmark moment for Chris Jordan.
He became England’s record wicket-taker in the format when he dismissed Quinton de Kock, overtaking Stuart Broad’s mark of 65. There was also off-field intrigue in the first-innings when team analyst Nathan Leamon was pictued hanging numbers and letters over a railing in what a team spokesman called ‘an informational resource’ for the captain. England confirmed the communication method had been cleared by the match referee.
De Kock decided to bat first despite watching England chase nervelessly in the previous two matches, sharing a 32-run stand with Temba Bavuma to get the ball rolling.
For the third time in the series Jordan proved his nemesis, De Kock offering a steepling catch having sorely misjudged the pace. Jordan punched the air with a little more fire than usual to mark his landmark achievement, swiftly joined by his team-mates in celebration.
South Africa’s 10-over score of 66 for three represented a major disappointment, Adil Rashid shutting down the rate and Ben Stokes grabbing a handy double strike to see off Bavuma and Reeza Hendricks.
From there on Du Plessis and Van der Dussen took control, punishing predictable seam bowling to the tune of 127, of which 84 came in the final five overs. Van der Dussen was particularly fierce, hammering 22 off Jofra Archer in the 17th – his costliest over ever – and 20 off Jordan.
The reply began with all eyes on the out-of-form Jason Roy, who survived George Linde’s spin but fell lbw for 16 to the rapid Anrich Nortje. Buttler needed six balls to get off the mark but then swiped his seventh all the way for six. Malan needed no sighters, taking two fours and a six over fine leg from his first three deliveries.
He had a couple of scares along the way, given lbw on 16 before DRS stepped in and then leaving himself short on 36 only for De Kock to fumble a run-out chance. That aside he was in punishing mood, dismissing anything under or over-pitched and sweeping Tabraiz Shamsi off his line.
A halfway score of 85 for one soon went through the roof, as the second-wicket pair blazed away with 40 off the next two overs. Lutho Sipamla, in for the injured Kagiso Rabada, shed 21 of those as Buttler added another two sixes to the tally and Shamsi accounted for the rest as the big hits kept coming.
Malan passed fifty in just 26 balls, eight quicker than Buttler, and he looked to be powering towards three figures as South Africa lost all discipline in the field. Shamsi’s allocation went for a bruising 57, there were a handful of unwarranted extras and all the while the ball kept hitting the middle of Malan’s bat.
There was some surprise when he dashed through for a single when the scores were tied, with another boundary never far away, but he will have impressed with his cold-eyed determination to get the job done.