Eoin Morgan made a blistering return to form, and Alex Hales was on top of his game again, as England beat South Africa A by 44 runs in their Twenty20 warm-up match at Boland Park.
Hales passed 50 in every match of England’s one-day series defeat by South Africa, culminating in his second century in that format at Newlands on Sunday. Morgan had less to smile about after mustering just 12 runs in his last three innings.
Here, Hales (78) confirmed he remains in control against the white ball, and Morgan’s 42 from just 13 deliveries was even more heartening as England racked up 202 for 6 – two days before the first Twenty20 international at Cape Town.
They then restricted their hosts to 158 for 8, despite a fine half-century from Theunis de Bruyn (56), who put on 88 with Morne van Wyk for the second wicket, but there was not the firepower down the order to keep bowlers under sustained pressure.
Coming in at 138 for 3, having won the toss in this day-night fixture, Morgan dominated a stand of 49 with Jos Buttler – hitting five sixes off his first 10 balls.
Hales had got England off to a flier, with seven fours from his first 12 balls and 32 of the first 33 runs alongside Jason Roy.
The latter caught up to have a slightly more even share of the 50 partnership, which came up in under five overs, and he had just hit Andile Phehlukwayo for the first six of the innings – down the ground – when he mistimed another attempted big hit into the hands of deep mid-on.
Hales continued unchecked, in company with James Vince, and had 10 fours and a six in his 32-ball 50. Vince ticked over handily too until he clubbed Wayne Parnell (3 for 26) to deep midwicket, and Hales was eventually caught deep on the leg-side.
But Buttler hit his second ball for six over long-off, and Morgan took the hint with a series of towering blows into the crowd before holing out in the last over as England nonetheless passed 200.
It was a tough target, all the more so after Reeza Hendricks fell lbw to inswing from Reece Topley (3 for 29) in the first over of the chase.
De Bruyn provided impetus, though, taking 15 of the 17 runs which came from the first of Chris Woakes’ overs.Woakes, the only player in this side who will not be involved at next month’s ICC World Twenty20, proved England’s weakest link.
But he had Van Wyk caught at long-on before De Bruyn chipped one into the off-side ring off the impressive Adil Rashid, who in his next over had former Yorkshire team-mate David Miller stumped.
Three wickets had fallen for 14 runs, and England were not unduly pushed from then on.
It was a promising performance, with more exacting tests to come both in the final week of this tour and then in India next month.
With three regulars to return, Ben Stokes an obvious asset to balance the team alongside fellow all-rounder Moeen Ali, England could be encouraged by this first match of the year in this format.
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