|Second Twenty20 international, Durban|
|England 204-7 (20.0 overs): Stokes 47*, Roy 40, Moeen 39; Ngidi 3-48|
|South Africa 202-7 (20.0 overs): De Kock 65, Van der Dussen 43*|
|England win by two runs|
England held their nerve to level the series against South Africa with a thrilling two-run victory in the second Twenty20 international in Durban.
The hosts needed three off the last two balls to reach their target of 205, but Tom Curran dismissed Dwaine Pretorius and Bjorn Fortuin to secure the win.
Chris Jordan had seemingly put the total beyond South Africa’s reach with two wickets in consecutive balls before Rassie van der Dussen (43 not out) and Pretorius (25) fought back to leave their side needing 15 from the final over.
Pretorius hit a six and a four to put the Proteas on the brink, but Curran responded with a superb yorker to remove him lbw.
And then the England bowler bravely sent down a slower ball that Fortuin ramped to Adil Rashid at short fine leg, leaving the hosts agonisingly short on 202-7.
Moeen Ali ‘s sublime 39 off 11 balls and Ben Stokes’ fine unbeaten 47 off 30 balls had earlier propelled the tourists to 204-7 off their 20 overs.
Proteas captain Quinton de Kock hit a stunning 22-ball 65 to get his side’s chase off to a fantastic start before England pegged them back.
Having fluffed their lines to lose the first T20 by one run on Wednesday, England did not capitulate when South Africa roared back this time.
The series, level at 1-1, concludes with the third T20 at Centurion on Sunday at 12:30 GMT.
England hold their nerve… just
In the first T20, England lost a match they should have won but here they found a way to win from what appeared to be a losing position late on.
Curran was loose in conceding 33 runs off his first three overs but Eoin Morgan backed his experience of bowling at the death in giving him the final over.
After a dot ball to start, Pretorius seemed to be striking South Africa to a series win, so for Curran to come back and produce two excellent final deliveries was especially impressive.
England’s seamers had to step up with spinners Moeen and Rashid uncharacteristically expensive and Stokes, Jordan and Mark Wood all made telling contributions.
De Kock had ruthlessly punished Moeen – hitting three sixes in an over, including one onto the roof – before bringing up his half-century off just 17 balls.
But he smacked a full toss from Wood straight to Stokes, with the third umpire ruling it was below waist height, before Wood had opener Temba Bavuma caught down the leg side by Jos Buttler for 31.
David Miller smacked a delivery from Rashid out of the stadium, before he picked out Jordan at long on off Stokes to fall for 21.
Jordan sent down two fine yorkers to bowl JJ Smuts and Andile Phehlukwayo in consecutive balls, only for Van der Dussen to produce some mighty blows before Jordan conceded 11 off the 19th over.
Yet this time South Africa could not find a way, with England’s victory confirmed once the umpires ruled Rashid had not left the inner ring too early on the final ball, ensuring an absorbing series will have a fitting decider.
Moeen and Stokes save stuttering innings
England were wobbling at 125-5 in 16th over following the tame dismissals of Morgan and Joe Denly, before Moeen and then Stokes launched them to an imposing total.
Moeen hit three fours and four sixes in a stunning knock, including an astonishing square drive over point into the stands, before he finally picked out Bavuma, who also took a stunning diving catch to remove Jordan.
That gave Stokes the impetus to kick on, the all-rounder peppering the boundaries down the ground and over mid-wicket as well as running well to ensure the tourists added a vital 79 runs off the last five overs.
Before Moeen and Stokes, England’s innings posed more questions about whether they are using their batsmen in the right order.
Buttler, who nicked behind for two, has hit his two highest T20 scores for England opening the batting and performed brilliantly there in the IPL, but does him opening cost England too much by losing their best finisher?
England are not short of top-order talent – one-day openers Jason Roy (40) and Jonny Bairstow (35) again starred in a second-wicket stand of 52, while Dawid Malan, Tom Banton and Alex Hales are other strong options.
Denly struggled in an unfamiliar position at six as he was bowled off his arm miscuing a pull shot, while Moeen has an excellent record hitting spin in the middle overs but again faced only seam bowling after coming in at seven.
England have so many innovative, destructive batsmen they could well win games whatever order they play in but it feels like this line-up needs fine-tuning before the T20 World Cup starts in Australia in October.
‘We came back strongly’ – reaction
England captain Eoin Morgan on the Test Match Special podcast: “Moeen Ali’s innings was unbelievably valuable and I’m extremely proud of the bowling unit, they were used in different roles, which gave us a huge amount of flexibility and variety and got us home.
“It was South Africa’s game to lose so getting the wicket on the second last ball was priceless – having a new man coming in to face the last ball needing three to win was the difference.
“We’ve come back extremely strong to just level the series so we’re not getting carried away and we’ll be giving it everything again.”
England seamer Tom Curran: “You want to be in the action and in the thick of things, that’s why you play game.
“I am by no means the finished article but that is where you learn the most.”
England all-rounder Moeen Ali: “It was very entertaining. They are just the kind of games you want because going forward we haven’t got that many games before the World Cup.
“The closer they are the better they are for us so we can learn all of the time.”