When Eoin Morgan won the toss in Mumbai, he probably felt a jolt of excitement and confidently told Ian Bishop that his team would bowl first.
20 overs later he was probably regretting the decision, actually, he was probably regretting even making it to the ground at all.
Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock were nothing short of malicious in how they tore the English apart in the power play. 83/0 after 6 overs, it was just stand and deliver stuff as Morgan could just watch like the rest of the crowd as the ball flew to the boundary rope.
De Kock brought up his 50 off 21 balls, Amla recorded his from a more sluggish 25 balls. It was a dream platform and you almost felt sorry for the English bowlers who would have probably welcomed Chris Gayle back to the crease with the way these two were going.
They departed soon after raising their bats though, with the English spinners and the more spread fields stemming the rampant run flow. AB de Villiers came and went, Du Plessis ambled around a bit, and during this little lull, you couldn’t help but analyze the English bowling attack.
Sure there have been injuries to a couple key seamers bowlers, but is there really no spot in this team for Stuart Broad? Sure he has only played 1 T20 in 2 years, but the guy is a good bowler and can hit a length or at least show some composure with ball in hand. Willey and Topley are exciting prospects, but they are both left arm-seamers. Surely in an inexperienced attack you pick one or the other and insert Broad?
Anyways, while this was being considered, Miller and Duminy had gotten together, and with six overs remaining they were hitting their stride. Duminy the accumulator, Miller the big hitter waiting to explode. It was Duminy that went first though, bringing up a fine 50 off 26 balls. This spurred Miller on who finished with a flourish, 28 off 13 and South Africa had posted an almost unbelievable 229/4.
Rashid and Ali the picks of the English attack, as for the seamers though, they combined for 145/1 off 11 overs.
Game over then, England to crash out of yet another ICC tournament?
Well Jason Roy didn’t think so. He and Hales scored 48 runs off the first 13 balls in reply.
They started the innings needing to chase down 230, that’s 1.91 runs a ball. A ball! Here they were though carving the Proteas bowlers all over the place, and suddenly that 230 seemed light, and that was just after 3 overs!
Calm down, calm down. Anyone can swing a bit at the beginning with the field up, the wickets will come and that rate will drop.
The wickets did come. Hales was trapped leg before with a poor shot, Roy tried one too many Dil-scoops and Stokes hit a full toss to square leg. The rate did not drop though. Not at all, England just stayed with the rate, and even with JP Duminy and Imran Tahir combining for a golden period where 4 overs returned 1/29, England stayed in the pound seats.
Faf Du Plessis didn’t know where to go. So shell shocked was he that he fielders saving one were rooted to the inner ring in hope of saving a boundary, so even the good balls yielded an easy single.
Despite the short balls constantly going for runs, the Proteas seamers went there all too often, and Root and Buttler just lapped it all up with a match winning partnership of 75 from 36 balls. Going into the tournament there were concerns that the Proteas bowlers could leak some runs, but never to the extent that England were cashing in with.
18 dot balls after 18 overs, England had done the impossible. Root eventually fell for 83 off 44, but at that stage the game was over. Chasing 230, and they were strolling in at the end. Was this for real?
An incredible 2 wicket win for England. They were in a must win situation and looking down the barrel of the gun at the start of the match alone. Chasing 230 they were positively moments from the end, but they came back from the dead and in doing saw made many a T20 record tumble in the process.
The biggest ever WT20 chase, second best T20 international chase, a special night for them to savour.
For the Proteas, you may think it is best for them to get the choke out of the way early on. This however isn’t something you just shrug off, and will haunt this attack going forward no matter how prolific the batting. Same old same old perishing under pressure, only this time the bowling frailties seem rather large and certainly too big a problem for Charl Langeveldt to remedy.
For England, well they have a new lease of life in the tournament. Bowling is a massive concern for them too, but they really do know anything is possible, and they will enjoy it regardless from here!