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September 10, 2012
Match abandoned South Africa 77 for 5 in 9 overs (Amla 47*, Finn 2-17) v England 29 for 2 in 4.1 overs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The wettest of English summers has struck again. The second Twenty20 international at Old Trafford was an exercise in futility as rain, which had reduced the contest to nine overs per side, returned five balls before a result would have been achieved.
South Africa were favourites at that stage, however difficult that is to call in such a small game, with England needing 13 off five balls to win on Duckworth/Lewis after Luke Wright had been caught at deep square-leg the ball before the heavens opened again. It had been a faltering chase of 78 with the top three struggling to score off Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn.
Kieswetter had tried to swing at Morkel from the first ball, a difficult task at the best of times, and only found fresh air with his first four attempts. His innings was ended by a wonderful catch by Robin Peterson running backwards from mid-on and diving full length. It was almost the equal of Dan Christian's stunner in Dubai a few days ago.
South Africa's innings had also included a screaming catch when Graeme Swann back-peddled off his own bowling and stuck out his right hand to remove JP Duminy. However, England dropped another and it was inevitably Hashim Amla who, once again, finished as top-scorer with 47 off 30 balls meaning he has achieved career-bests in all three formats on this tour. Amla had been recalled in place of Faf du Plessis for this match and adapted to the shorter-than-short format.
Apart from Amla, it was a helter-skelter innings from South Africa, which began with Richard Levi gloving the first ball down the leg side against Steven Finn about two-and-a-half hours after he had been ready to start the game before the rain fell.
AB de Villiers also fell to Finn, top-edging a pull to mid-on where Jade Dernbach juggled the catch before holding on falling backwards, but after the three overs of Powerplay South Africa had made good use of them to have 32 on the board. Interestingly, though, with an eye on future cricket at this ground, notably the Ashes Test next year, the pitch had regained some of its old pace and bounce with Finn and Stuart Broad - whose speeds have increased after his break - zipping the ball through.
Out of the Powerplay, Swann produced a tight over which only conceded five singles, spearing his deliveries full at the batsmen to ensure they could only work them down the ground. This was followed by Wright's first over which only went for four and included the wicket of Albie Morkel who skewed a catch to cover.
On the whole England's bowlers did well with only Broad proving really expensive as his second over - the penultimate of the innings -cost 18 and included a no-ball. Such lapses cannot be afforded in the World Twenty20.
Also with thoughts moving towards the World T20, England made a significant decision when Ravi Bopara's awful form finally cost him place and led to Wright's inclusion. It was about the only call England could make after his horror run of 34 runs from the eight innings he has played since returning from personal problems after the first Test.
Whether he now has a chance recapture any semblance of touch before the World T20 is a major doubt and England look like entering the tournament carrying one of their 15-man squad. England have one more match against South Africa, at Edgbaston on Wednesday, and a couple of warm-up matches, against Australia and Pakistan, in Sri Lanka before the tournament proper but Andy Flower and Broad may already have made up their minds. The only way a player can be replaced in a squad is through injury or illness.
Wright, for his part, deserved his chance after a productive season for Sussex in both limited-overs formats. This was officially his first England match since June 2011 when he faced Sri Lanka in a T20 match at Bristol. Since then he has travelled the world playing franchise T20, making a name for himself in the Big Bash League especially where he scored a 44-ball hundred, and returned to Sussex a more rounded cricketer.
Wright's recall was the only change for England, who resisted tinkering further despite the heavy defeat at Chester-le-Street, with Danny Briggs, Michael Lumb and Tim Bresnan still waiting for their turn. Bresnan's elbow, which he had surgery on at the end of the last year, has been causing further concern in recent weeks and he had scans before the T20 series started but took a full part in the warm-ups.
The match was played at an Old Trafford where the redevelopments are seriously taking shape. The new players and media building was used for the first time today and initial impressions were excellent. Further work will have been done by the time the Ashes Test arrives next year, including finishing the famous pavilion, and everyone will have their fingers crossed for better weather.
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