Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bosman and Smith lead rout of England

South Africa 241 for 6 (Bosman 94, Smith 88) beat England 157 for 8 (Trott 51) by 84 runs

Loots Bosman fell one blow short of recording only the second century in Twenty20 internationals, and Graeme Smith made a statement of his own by hammering 88 from 44 balls, as South Africa responded to their defeat in Friday's first T20I at the Wanderers by squaring the series with one of the most powerful displays of batting ever witnessed at international level.

In total the South Africans smacked 19 fours and a world-record 17 sixes to rattle along to a massive total of 241 for 6 - second only to Sri Lanka's 260 against the minnows of Kenya two years ago. Unsurprisingly it was all too much for England's hit-and-miss cricketers, whose quest for consistency continues unabated. Not even the unscheduled return of Kevin Pietersen could rescue them from humiliation, although he did at least chip in with two of their six sixes in reply, before succumbing to his first attempt at a switch hit.

That other former South African, Jonathan Trott, also hung around for an 40-ball 51, but - in a measure of the extent to which England were outclassed - England's 20-over total of 157 for 8 was 13 runs fewer than Smith and Bosman managed between them during a sensational 13-over opening stand.

It all added up to a cruel introduction to the captaincy for Alastair Cook - who took charge of the side for the first time following the withdrawal of Paul Collingwood before the toss. His stint got off to a misleadingly competent start when James Anderson conceded just two runs from his first over, and at 14 for 0 after three, England appeared to be exerting a measure of control.

But it was not to last. Sajid Mahmood's first over was a horror show - he conceded 21 runs, including three fours from his first three balls, and a free-hit for six as Bosman belted his final ball of the over through midwicket. To compound the indignity, Mahmood had also fired a perfect yorker through Smith's defences off another free-hit, as well as having Bosman caught at mid-off from his second no-ball of the over.

It was the tonic that South Africa's batsmen needed, and there was no holding back from that moment onwards. With Cook shuffling his bowlers and rearranging his field after every other delivery, Tim Bresnan was clubbed for 16 runs as he returned after a change of ends, while Luke Wright, unsurprisingly replacing the hapless Mahmood, was drilled for two further sixes from his first three balls.

On 39, Smith offered his first genuine chance, when he mistimed a Wright slower-ball and fizzed the ball back past the bowler's ears, as 55 runs were clobbered from the last three overs of the Powerplay. Mahmood returned to the attack with some initial success, with only three runs coming from the first four deliveries of his second over, but Bosman further shredded his figures with a biffed four through mid-on and the biggest of his four sixes to date, an effortless pick-up over midwicket.

At 82 for 0 after seven overs, it was an inauspicious moment for Adil Rashid to join the attack, and sure enough, the gamble of taking the pace off the ball backfired spectacularly. Rashid's first over was smeared for 25, including a brace of sixes for each of the batsmen - Smith biffed his first two balls over midwicket to hurtle to a 25-ball half-century, and after a stumping appeal and a single, Bosman sent his last two in a similar direction.

Bosman's own fifty was also brought up from 25 balls, with a push for two to long-on off Wright, who was by some distance the pick of England's middle-over bowlers. But at the opposite end, the carnage continued unabated. Bresnan returned for his third over, but Smith hammered his first two balls for six, and when Mahmood replaced him at the Grandstand End, he served up a juicy full-toss that Smith dispatched with aplomb onto the grassy banks at midwicket.

Such was England's predicament that Pietersen, who wasn't even meant to be beginning his England comeback until Tuesday's warm-up, was whistled up to bowl the 13th over. But Bosman belted him into the crowd at midwicket for his seventh - and South Africa's 13th - six of the innings, before finding the gap at backward square leg one ball later.

Eventually, it was Cook's second speculative bowling change that made the long-awaited breakthrough, as he threw the ball to Joe Denly for his first over in international cricket, and Smith responded by slapping his very first delivery to Mahmood at long-on. One over, and two further sixes later, Bresnan provided Pietersen with something to smile about, as he stretched superbly on the long-off boundary to intercept another lusty blow, this time from Albie Morkel.

England did manage to finish the innings with some dignity restored, as five wickets fell in five consecutive overs. JP Duminy aimed a hoick over midwicket off Anderson, but steepled a leading edge to Wright at point, before Bosman's masterclass came to a cruel end. On 94 from just 44 balls, and sizing up a tenth six to become only the second batsman after Chris Gayle to score a Twenty20 international hundred, he launched into a Wright full-toss, but found Anderson hurtling in at deep midwicket to claim a magnificent tumbling catch.

Jacques Kallis, back in the side after missing Friday's first game, then gave Mahmood some light relief as he swished at a slower ball and lost his off stump. But England, who excelled themselves in posting their highest Twenty20 total two days ago at the Wanderers, were left needing the highest score ever made in a 20-over fixture between two senior nations.

It never looked like happening. After first-ball ducks in each of his previous Twenty20s, Denly this time survived until the fourth over before inside-edging Yusuf Abdulla onto his off stump. By that stage, however, England were already drifting out of contention, and in fact they didn't score their first six until the ninth over, when Trott dropped to one knee to hoist Roelof van der Merwe over midwicket.

Cook chivvied as best he could, given that his style of batting is not exactly renowned for clearing the ropes, but when he clipped Morkel to midwicket for 26 from 21 balls, Pietersen emerged to a predictable chorus of boos. Mocking laughter might have been more appropriate, however, seeing as England were 65 for 2 after 9.3 overs, with an asking rate that was already approaching three runs a ball.

England never threatened to turn the tide of the match. Trott and Pietersen's 52-run stand was as good as it got, and though Eoin Morgan picked up where he had left off at the Wanderers by reverse-flicking his first ball for four, Dale Steyn blasted through his defences for 10, before the tail dribbled away in a non-descript fashion.

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