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England v South Africa Twenty20 Series 2012
Emirates Durham ICG
South Africa claimed first blood in the Twenty20 International series against England with a seven-wicket victory at Chester-le-Street.
The hosts managed a paltry 118-7 in their allotted overs under clear-blue skies, but after an early scare the Proteas coasted home with six balls to spare.
Jade Dernbach took two early wickets as the South Africans slipped to 29-3 in their reply, but Jacques Kallis (48 not out) and JP Duminy (47 not out) scored the rest between them to guide their team home.
Several England batsmen got starts but the hosts were grateful to Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann for taking the score into three figures.
As at Trent Bridge in the final one-day international England posted an under par score as a string of frontline batsmen fell to soft dismissals.
On a pitch of decent pace, but with spin available for Johan Botha and Robin Peterson, England's highest partnership was captain Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann's unbroken 33 for the eighth wicket.
Until then, early promise foundered alarmingly as Peterson and Botha shared four wickets - with minimal resistance - and England registered the third-lowest total in their Twenty20 history.
Alex Hales began the innings with boundaries, from the second and third balls he faced, a sweep and front-foot push past point in the first over off Peterson.
Top scorer Craig Kieswetter clubbed Lonwabo Tsotsobe for England's only six over long-on, but the first-wicket stand ended disappointingly when Hales over-committed himself for a single into the leg-side off his partner's thick inside-edge and could not beat Jacques Kallis' direct hit as he tried to dive back.
Kieswetter stayed long enough to help England to 40-1 in the powerplay, only to go lbw to the first ball of the next over - Botha striking immediately with a big off-break which hit the batsman just on off-stump.
Out-of-form Ravi Bopara stayed that way after AB de Villiers recalled Dale Steyn, kept a slip in and duly saw England's number three go again to a compliant outside-edge.
Botha and Peterson's spin variations soon did for two of England's biggest hopes in this format - Eoin Morgan was bowled by Botha, attempting a hybrid leg-side swipe, and Jos Buttler advanced to Peterson but missed one that turned.
Jonny Bairstow then picked out long-on off Albie Morkel while Samit Patel was well caught by a diving Kallis at long-off off Peterson.
Broad and Swann (both 18 not out) therefore had to try to rescue a worthwhile total, from 85-7 in the 16th over, after a procession of six wickets for the addition of only 44 runs.
Swann hit Peterson to deep midwicket for England's first boundary in nine overs, and he and Broad did enough to at least push their team into three figures.
When South Africa faltered to 29 for three after four overs, it seemed England's bowlers might somehow salvage the situation after all. But it was a fleeting misconception.
Steven Finn bowled especially well, rewarded only with the wicket of debutant Faf du Plessis - stuck on the crease lbw.
Dernbach had already had opener Richard Levi well-caught high at slip by Swann, and home hopes were truly raised when De Villiers edged the same bowler behind as he tried to force off-side runs off the back foot.
But Kallis, back after his sabbatical during the drawn 50-over series, was still standing in England's way.
He and JP Duminy duly shared an unbroken stand of 90, a record for the fourth wicket by any team against England in this sprint format.
South Africa did not quite complete the task with the conspicuous ease they had in the midlands. But once again, England's faulty batting had given them the freedom to play without risk.
Broad and Swann, in particular, bowled economically. But wickets were the required currency to make a game of it - and despite Finn's early recall, they never came.
The second game in the three-match series is at Old Trafford on Monday.