x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

England level Twenty20 series with South Africa after dynamic Buttler display

England claimed a 28-run win at Edgbaston as rain limited the final match of the series to an 11-over thrash.

England's Tim Bresnan bowls out Richard Levi of South Africa during the T20 match at Edgbaston.
England's Tim Bresnan bowls out Richard Levi of South Africa during the T20 match at Edgbaston.

Thrilling knocks from Craig Kieswetter and Jos Buttler saw England end the summer on a high note, squaring the NatWest Twenty20 Series against South Africa with a 28-run victory at Edgbaston.

The familiar sight of rain reduced the match to an 11-over thrash, a format that suited the Somerset pair down to the ground as Kieswetter made 50 in 32 balls and Buttler blazed 32 not in just 10 deliveries.

Stuart Broad, the England captain, said afterwards the result was a timely confidence boost for the squad ahead of the World Twenty20 Championships which get under way next week.

He said: "To get on that flight with a win under our belt is brilliant.

"Not many of us have played reduced Twenty20 games so it's always hard to know what a par score was and I thought the guys adapted very well."

Buttler was the obvious target for specific praise and Broad was more than happy to offer it.

"We've picked guys who can change the momentum of Twenty20 games, we knew we had hitters to come in and Jos played a game-changing innings," he said.

"We've seen this fella do it for Somerset time and time again so to see him do it in an England shirt was brilliant.

"It pretty much won us the game.

"Jos was put at five today because of the situation with only four overs to go and it paid off."

Buttler and Kieswetter's fourth-wicket pairing added 48 in 11 frenzied minutes to lead the hosts to 118 for five, with Buttler launching a brutal attack on Wayne Parnell that saw him concede 32 in a single over - the second costliest over in international Twenty20 history.

As so often in recent times, Hashim Amla was South Africa's linchpin, top-scoring with 36 in an ill-fated reply that ended at 90 for five.

With plentiful runs on the board, England's Twenty20 debutant Danny Briggs was handed the first over of the South Africa innings.

Amla took the 21-year-old spinner for two boundaries but was also beaten twice on the outside edge.

Out-of-form opener Richard Levi did not detain England long, castled by Tim Bresnan for a single, but as so often Amla looked to be the danger man.

A powerful late cut brought him a third boundary off Briggs' bowling in the fourth over, only for Faf du Plessis to fall for eight five balls later.

Briggs found the leading edge with his left-arm spin and Eoin Morgan took a simple catch at the edge of the ring.

Stuart Broad was frustrated to see two bouncers called wide after beating Amla's bat and the opener swatted the England skipper for his sixth boundary to bring up the Proteas' 50.

At that stage Amla had all but 16 of his side's runs and his lone hand continued when AB de Villiers steered Graeme Swann straight down Jonny Bairstow's throat at deep-midwicket.

With the required-rate climbing sharply Amla finally succumbed in almost identical fashion to De Villiers, Swann and Bairstow again the winning combination.

Jade Dernbach showed off his variations as his first over cost a meagre two and when Justin Ontong miscued Bresnan to point the game was all but over.

A notional target of 40 from the last over was never close to realistic and the tourists chiselled only 10 of them off Dernbach.

England's innings was built almost exclusively around the efforts of Kieswetter and Buttler.

They were the only men to get past double figures and each did so in some style.

But the first major contributor to England's total was Morne Morkel. He sent down a wild first over that included four comical wides down leg side, a waist-high full toss and back-to-back boundaries from Kieswetter.

Michael Lumb, recalled to the side for the first time in over a year, managed one fluent cover drive off Parnell before losing his middle stump to the left-armer.

Kieswetter found the ropes for the third time when he smashed Johan Botha back over his head in the fifth over, but otherwise South Africa's spin duo of Botha and Robin Peterson did a solid containment job.

Botha's second over cost only two, a priceless contribution, and he picked up the scalps of Luke Wright and Morgan for single figures.

Jacques Kallis' introduction gave Kieswetter sufficient pace to open his shoulders again and he duly smeared the all-rounder's third delivery for six over long-on.

A second Kieswetter six saw England to 74 with two overs remaining and new man Buttler set about adding to that with a flourish.

After just one sighter he crashed Parnell for a steepling six over long-off and then immediately repeated the stroke.

Parnell was spooked and sent down successive no-balls, Buttler producing a pair of impudent paddled fours off the resulting free-hits.

Buttler's third maximum of the over, this time pulled flat over mid-wicket completed Parnell's misery.

Kieswetter pulled a third six to bring up his half-century in the final over but Morne Morkel bowled both him and Bairstow to claw back some of the momentum.

Despite the efforts of Buttler and Kieswetter, defeated Proteas skipper AB de Villiers expects England's prospects in the coming weeks to centre around their attack.

"Their bowling line-up has been one of the best in the world for quite a few years now," he said.

"I thought they did really well when they won the tournament in the Caribbean; that was probably down to bowlers, who had an amazing tournament.

"They certainly have a lot of talent, but so do a lot of other teams.

"I would like to think it will be a great battle and the top four sides get through to the end.

"May the best team win."