Jonny Bairstow’s 86 not out seals five-wicket win over South Africa
CAPE TOWN: Jonny Bairstow made his highest Twenty20 international score as England beat South Africa by five wickets in the series opener in Cape Town.
Coming to the crease at 27-2, chasing 180 to win, Bairstow hit nine fours and four sixes in a magnificent unbeaten 86 off 48 balls.
He was ably supported in a 85-run partnership with all-rounder Ben Stokes, who made a 27-ball 37.
Earlier, Sam Curran - chosen over spinner Moeen Ali - recorded his best T20 international bowling figures as he took 3-28, including the key wicket of Faf du Plessis for 58.
South Africa's total of 179-6 was 21 more than the average first-innings T20 total at Newlands, and England were struggling at 34-3, but Bairstow's brutality guided them to an excellent win with four balls to spare.
Before the game England captain Eoin Morgan spoke about using this series to find roles and a batting order that players were happy with the World Cup in India just 11 months away.
Bairstow may have found his at four.
Often known as a belligerent opener, he rescued England after Jason Roy fell in the first over and Jos Buttler moments later, and his ability to latch on to anything short and punish deliveries that were too full was immediately evident.
Dropped on 24 at long-on by Du Plessis, Bairstow scored 49 of his runs through mid-wicket and mid-on as he and Stokes swung the game in England's favour. - AFP