REUTERS - England debutant Dawid Malan’s hard-hitting 78 helped the hosts to a 19-run victory over South Africa in their Twenty 20 international at Cardiff on Sunday to secure a 2-1 series win.
The 29-year-old left-hander Malan, who was born in London and brought up in South Africa, blasted 78 from 44 balls, including 12 fours and two sixes as England, whose captain Eoin Morgan was rested, made 181 for eight.
South Africa were never really in the run chase, especially after captain AB de Villiers was caught in the deep by Alex Hales off the spin of Mason Crane for 35, leaving his team at 82 for four. They eventually fell short on 162 for seven.
Chris Jordan picked up three wickets for England who will be delighted to have won the series while also blooding new talent.
One of those propsects, Crane, was delighted to have kept his nerve whilst facing a pounding from De Villiers.
The South African carted him for two sixes and a four before holing out and giving the 20-year-old his first wicket in international cricket.
But it was Malan who did the most to boost his chances of forcing his way into the England team on a longer-term basis, showing enormous confidence as he smashed his second ball over mid-wicket for six.
Malan has had to wait for his ability to be rewarded by the England selectors but he showed that, even when the likes of Joe Root and Ben Stokes return to the side, he could be a very useful option.
“I didn’t think (the chance) would ever come but nice to show what I can do. It’s tough but you try and keep things in perspective and wait for an opportunity,” he said.
“To play for your country is a fantastic achievement. I’ve only played one game, especially with the guys we’ve got -- hopefully they rest a few in the next game as well.”
Jos Buttler, who stepped in as captain in the absence of Eoin Morgan, was full of praise for Malan.
“Dawid batted on a different wicket to the rest of us, made it look really good on debut. All the best teams have very good players missing out, with injuries, and with guys coming in there is pressure on you, you feel like you need to perform and it was a fantastic show of character from Dawid Malan,” he said.
The two countries will now face each other in a four-match test series starting at Lord’s on July 6.
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ian Chadband and Ken Ferris