England defeated South Africa by 9 wickets    Getty Images
England defeated South Africa by 9 wickets Getty Images

After the semi-final exit from the just-concluded ICC Champions Trophy 2017, hosts England switched their attention towards the shortest format of the game, as they bounced back in style to beat visitors South Africa convincingly by 9 wickets, in the first of the three-match Twenty20 International (T20I) series at The Rose Bowl in Southampton on Wednesday. South Africa managed to score an average 142 for the loss of 3 wickets, courtesy AB de Villiers and Farhaan Behardien’s unbeaten 65 and 64 respectively, while England’s Jonny Bairstow and his unbeaten 60 made sure England drew first blood. Let us have a look at the highlights from an otherwise low-scoring tie. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: England vs South Africa 2017, 1st T20I at Southampton

David Willey’s first-ball wicket: In what turned out to be a shocking start for South Africa, the Proteas were left stunned after opener JJ Smuts was dismissed off the very first delivery of the match from fast bowler David Willey, as Smuts played on to his stumps and was dismissed for an unfortunate duck. It was certainly a dream start from England as they looked to capitalise on the start.

Mark Wood’s successive two scalps in powerplay: South Africa’s shaky start in the powerplay phase continued as fast bowler Mark Wood got rid of fellow opener Reeza Hendricks in the first ball of the second over, who handed a good catch to Willey at mid-on, as he walked back for mere 3. Certainly not the start which the South Africans expected, and it got worse when it was Wood again, who got rid of David Miller for mere 9 during his second over (fourth over of the match), after he was caught behind by Jos Buttler, as South Africa were more or less in a panic mode.

AB de Villiers-Farhaan Behardien’s late resurgence: Having already gone off to a shaky start, it was the pair of skipper de Villiers and Behardien, who took complete charge of the innings and managed to get South Africa out of the blues, as it was this very pair who lasted till the end and managed to put up an important unbroken 110-run stand for the fourth wicket. De Villiers contributed 46, while Behardien contributed 64 runs in the stand.

De Villiers’s 10th T20I half-century: Apart from the crucial 110-run stand along with Behardien, there was more for de Villiers to celebrate about, as he brought up his 10th half-century in T20I cricket. He remained unbeaten on 65 from 58 deliveries, including 4 fours and a couple of sixes, with a strike rate of 112, which certainly helped him to be the catalyst for South Africa s innings.

Behardien’s maiden T20I half-century: Not just the skipper, but Behardien too had his moment as he scored his maiden T20I half-century, while his previous best was 36. Behardien too remained unbeaten on 64 off 52 deliveries, including 4 fours and a couple of sixes, with a strike rate of 123. It would certainly be an innings to remember for him..

Commendable start by English openers: With an average total to be chased down, English openers in the form of Jason Roy and Alex Hales were off to a commendable start, as both the batsmen managed to put up a 45-run opening stand, which allowed England to build theplatform for a perfect chase. Roy contributed 28, while Hales contributed 11 runs in the stand.

Alex Hales-Jonny Bairstow’s perfect finishing touch: Although Roy could not get past 28, his fellow opener Hales, along with incoming batsman Bairstow, made sure that England make the chase a clean one, as this very pair managed to score the remaining 98 runs with ease and allow England to draw first blood in the series. Hales contributed 36, while Bairstow contributed 60 runs in the stand.

Bairstow’s productive show with the bat: Although Bairstow contributed well enough along with Hales to give England the perfect win, it was also his day to celebrate as he scored his second T20I half-century. He remained unbeaten on 60 off 35 deliveries, including 6 fours and a couple of sixes, with a strike rate of 171, therefore allowing himself and England to register a perfect win and leave South Africa speechless.