Cardiff: Dawid Malan became England’s top-scoring Twenty20 international debutant as they beat South Africa by 19 runs at Cardiff on Sunday to seal a 2-1 series win despite resting regular captain Eoin Morgan.
Malan, playing in place of fellow Middlesex left-hander Morgan, made 78 in a total of 181 of eight after England were sent into bat by South Africa captain AB de Villiers.
South Africa then collapsed to 86 for five, with leg-spinner Mason Crane taking the prize scalp of De Villiers (35) for his first wicket at this level.
They rarely threatened England’s total, despite some big-hitting late on from Mangaliso Mosehle (36) and Andile Phehlukwayo (27 not out).
The Proteas’ fate was effectively sealed when Tom Curran, in just his second match at this level, conceded just seven runs off the penultimate over on his way to two for 22.
Man-of-the-match Malan’s impressive 44-ball innings featuring 12 fours and two sixes surpassed the 46 made by Paul Collingwood in England’s very first match at this level — a 100-run win over Australia at Southampton in 2005.
“I didn’t think this day would ever come so it was nice to get the opportunity to show what I can do,” said the 29-year-old Malan.
England stand-in skipper Jos Buttler added: “Dawid batted on a different wicket to the rest of us.”
Meanwhile De Villiers was left to rue some sloppy fielding as his side, beaten in a one-day international series by England and knocked out in the first round of the Champions Trophy, suffered another defeat on this tour.
“In the field we lost 20 runs and we lost (the match) by 19,” he said. “We let it slip there.”
Alex Hales and Malan shared a second-wicket stand of 105 in 10.3 overs.
But from 166 for three, England lost their next five wickets for 14 runs.
Dane Paterson, who was twice on a hat-trick, led South Africa’s attack with four for 32.
– Malan’s grand entrance –
Jason Roy, dropped on nought, fell for eight when caught behind trying to ramp fast bowler Morne Morkel.
His exit brought in Malan.
Born in London but brought up in South Africa, Malan got off the mark in style by pulling Chris Morris for six over midwicket.
Meanwhile Hales suffered a painful blow on eight when he bottom edged a pull off paceman Paterson onto an unprotected knee.
Hales should have been out on 10 when he mistimed a drive off Morris only for Phehlukwayo to make a complete hash of a routine catch.
Malan then drove fast bowler Morkel straight back over his head for a six that soared out of the ground and into the River Taff.
But he also showed touch too in flipping leg-spinner Imran Tahir over short fine leg for a four that saw him to fifty.
The stand was broken when Hales (36) holed out to deep midwicket where David Miller took a good catch and Malan fell soon afterwards, caught at long-on off Tahir.
England’s innings then petered out as Paterson helped himself to some cheap wickets.
Cape Town-born paceman Curran, carrying on from where he left off on debut in a three-run defeat at Taunton on Friday, dismissed Reeza Hendricks for a duck.
De Villiers, in his last match of the tour — he is not staying on for the Test leg as he takes a break from the demands of playing all three international formats — looked in good touch as he twice hoisted Crane for legside sixes in the 11th over.
But the last ball of that over saw him fail to get enough height and the tall Hales took a well-judged catch on the boundary edge.
And when the dangerous Miller was caught behind down the legside by Buttler off Chris Jordan, the Proteas were 86 for five in the 12th over.