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Jonny Bairstow struck a brilliant unbeaten 60 Getty Images

England‘s prolific top-order batsman Jonny Bairstow struck a brilliant unbeaten 60, as hosts England drew first blood by beating 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. Apart from Bairstow, it was opener Alex Hales, who too played a healthy supportive role with an unbeaten 47. South Africa, batting first, managed to post an average total of 143 for the loss of 3 wickets, courtesy skipper Ab de Villiers‘s unbeaten 65, along with Farhaan Behardien’s unbeaten 64. However, it was not enough to stop the hosts from clinching a clinical win over the Proteas. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: England vs South Africa 2017, 1st T20I at Southampton

Earlier, South Africa skipper de Villiers won the toss and elected to bat first as he went in with a new-look yet balanced side. As for England, they brought in debutant Mason Crane. South Africa, however, were off to a horrific start, as they lost opener JJ Smuts in the opening ball of the match, as he played on to his stumps off fast bowler David Willey, therefore getting himself dismissed for an unfortunate duck. Just as South Africa were being cautious, the opening ball of the second over from fast bowler Mark Wood saw the dismissal of fellow opener Reeza Hendricks for mere 3, after he handed a good catch to Willey at mid-on.

Having gone off to a shaky start, South Africa certainly needed to maintain more cautiousness. However, the second ball of the fourth over from Wood again saw the dismissal of David Miller for mere 9 who was playing his 50th T20I game. He was caught behind off Jos Buttler. Following his dismissal, it was the pair of de Villiers and Behardien, who took charge of the innings. FULL CRICKET UPDATES: England vs South Africa 2017, 1st T20I at Southampton

The pair turned out to be guardian angels for South Africa, as they managed to bat until the end and made sure that they bring South Africa out of the panic zone. Both the batsmen contributed to a 110-run stand for the fourth wicket, with de Villiers contributing 46 and Behardien contributing 64 runs in the stand. Apart from the stand, de Villiers managed to score his 10th T20I half-century, while Behardien too scored his maiden T20I half-century, going past his previous best score of 36.

De Villiers remained unbeaten on 65 off 58 deliveries, including 4 fours and a couple of sixes, with a strike rate of 112, while Behardien too remained unbeaten on 64 off 52 deliveries, including 4 fours and a couple of sixes, with a strike rate of 123, as they managed to help South Africa finish on an average total of 142 for the loss of 3 wickets.

As for the chase, it seemed to be a pretty much easy one for the hosts, and it was certainly so as England were off to a steady start, with the openers in the form of Jason Roy and Hales contributing to a 45-run opening stand to prove a point. Roy looked to be in good touch as he smashed Wayne Parnell for 25 in the fourth over, before falling for 28 in the very first ball of the fifth over to Andile Phehlukwayo, who trapped him leg-before, as Roy’s 17 ball cameo, including 3 fours and a couple of sixes, with a strike rate of 200 came to an end.

It was then the pair of fellow opener Hales, along with incoming Bairstow, which took charge and made sure that England chase the total down clean from there. It certainly tuned out to be so, as the pair managed to score the remaining 98 runs with ease, and hand England an easy 9-wicket win. Meanwhile, Bairstow scored his second T20I half-century, while he remained unbeaten on 60 off 35 deliveries, including 6 fours and a couple of sixes, with a strike rate of 171, as he was adjudged the Man of the Match.

As for Hales, he too played a decent knock of an unbeaten 47 off 38 deliveries, including 3 fours and a couple of sixes, with a strike rate of 124, as his supportive role allowed England to draw first blood in the series. With this win, England now move on to the second T20I at Taunton on Friday, where they will aim for a series win, while South Africa will fight to stay alive in the series.

Brief scores

South Africa 143 for 3 in 20 overs (AB de Villiers 65*, Farhaan Behardien 64*; Mark Wood 2 for 36) lost to England (Alex Hales 47*, Jonny Bairstow 60*; Andile Phehlukwayo 1 for 11) by 9 wickets.

Man of the Match: Jonny Bairstow (England)

Full scorecard