Tom Curran 'has a big heart', says England team-mate Chris Jordan
14 February 2020, 20:39 | Updated: 15 February 2020, 13:03
Chris Jordan praised his death-bowling partner Tom Curran after he held his nerve as England secured a last-ball, two-run win over South Africa in Durban to take the three-match T20I series into a decider on Sunday.
With England defending a target of 205, Quinton de Kock (65) struck a blistering 17-ball fifty - a South African T20I record - to get the home side's chase off to a flying start.
England managed to gradually peg things back, Jordan (2-31) bowling superbly and finding himself on a hat-trick for the second game running as he bowled JJ Smuts and Andile Phehlukwayo with devastating yorkers in the 17th over.
But back came South Africa, with Rassie van der Dussen (43no off 26) and Dwaine Pretorius (25 off 13) taking the game down to the last over before Curran won the game for England with wickets off both of his final two balls.
"I'm lost for words, really," Jordan told Sky Sports after the thrilling finish. "It was up and down, but we got away with it. We didn't bowl too badly upfront, it was just down to good batting, and then we did really well to hold our nerve at the end.
"I'm really pleased for Tom Curran. It's very easy to get your head down after going for two boundaries - he did really well to hold his nerve and get us over the line."
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The second and third balls of Curran's final over reached the boundary, with Pretorius first clearing the fence off a slower ball and then drilling an attempted yorker through the covers for four.
Having initially been given 15 runs to defend from the final over - a total Jordan said he backed Curran to protect - the equation was reduced to five needed from three and then three from two.
But, Curran then executed a superb straight yorker to dismiss Pretorius lbw off the penultimate delivery and backed himself to bowl another slower ball with the last ball, despite the six struck off his earlier one. The move paid off as Bjorn Fortuin was caught by Adil Rashid at short fine-leg when looking to ramp.
"TC is a very, very good death bowler - he has skills that no-one else has," Jordan added. "When he gets an instinct for something, you just let him run with it.
"He might call me and ask me what I reckon, but for that whole over he went with his instinct - especially on that last ball.
"Everyone was leaning towards the straight yorker as he was starting to bowl it really well, but he suggested the slower ball. And it's a good thing he did.
"Yes, [I backed him] 100 per cent. TC has been bowling really well, especially in training - he has just come from the Big Bash.
"He has an array of skills, and he has a big heart, which is a big thing as it does take guts to bowl in those situations and remain nice and calm. I would have backed him if I'd have given him eight, but I'm glad I was able to give him 15."
England captain Eoin Morgan added: "Probably with two balls to go, it was South Africa's game to lose - they were in an unbelievably commanding position.
"The ball that had been reverse swinging had been hit out of the ground and we were back with a normal ball so it was really tough work. I thought Curran did an unbelievable job to get the wicket [of Pretorius].
"The more options we have for guys bowling at the death, variation in the big overs, is completely invaluable.
"We've got guys getting injured all the time, particularly fast bowlers, so I don't think you can have enough guys in your squad of players to deliver that sort of skill. That creates good, healthy competition."
England Test batsman Ollie Pope - in the Sky Sports studio for the second T20I - said his Surrey county team-mate Curran is made for the big match-winning moments.
"TC is the exact man you want in that situation," added Pope. "We all know he can nail a yorker and he has a great back-of-the-hander.
"Obviously the pressure is on, but he's that type of personality that you want to chuck the ball to. He'll fire up for it and want the ball in his hand for that final over - and he delivered."
Watch the third T20I between South Africa and England, at Centurion, from 12pm on Sunday on Sky Sports Cricket.
(c) Sky Sports 2020: Tom Curran 'has a big heart', says England team-mate Chris Jordan