T20 World Cup: Doughty South Africa eke out seven-run win over England

PTI, Jun 22, 2024, 7:56 AM IST

Credit: X / @ICC

Gros Islet (St Lucia): Quinton de Kock made a coruscating fifty and bowlers responded bravely to the challenge of defending a sub-par total as South Africa thwarted a late England surge to eke out a tight seven-run win in their Group 2 Super Eight match in the T20 World Cup, here on Friday.

England had done well to keep South Africa to 163/6 in spite of De Kock’s 38-ball 65, but lost their way despite a spirited fightback from Harry Brook (53) and Liam Livingstone (33). They eventually finished at 156 for six.

South Africa’s perfection in executing their plans of taking the pace off the ball corresponded with England’s refusal to show intent as the defending champions did not find a single boundary between the fifth and the 12th over.

Brook and Livingstone did extremely well to stage a fightback to bring England back into the game but South Africa held their nerves, despite making plenty of errors, to keep their winning run in this World Cup intact.

England were still significantly far from target needing 46 runs to win from the final four overs but Ottneil Baartman, who had been measly throughout the group stage, sent down plenty of full-tosses as 21 runs were knocked off in the 17th over.

But Kagiso Rabada (2/32) stamped his class as he had Livingstone (33 off 17b, 3x4s, 2x6s) caught at deep backward square leg in the 18th over.

Marco Jansen then allowed only seven runs in the penultimate over to leave England needing 14 runs off the final over, in which Anrich Nortje (1/35) did well to remove Brooks and seal Proteas’ win.

Brook and Livingstone came together in the 11th over with England needing 103 to win from 58 balls. They added 78 from 42 but it was not enough as England paid a heavy price for being meek in the beginning.

Reeza Hendricks deserved all credits for pulling a catch out of thin air, putting a stunning effort at extra cover while diving to his left after Phil Salt (11) hit one hard against Rabada in the second over.

With Salt was dismissed early, England were neither quick off the blocks nor did they change approach to counter South African tactics.

Jonny Bairstow (17) failed to make the most of a lifeline given to him when Heinrich Klaasen dropped a regulation catch running in from backward square leg off Rabada in the third over.

However, with South African bowlers keeping it tight another chance came their way when Keshav Maharaj lured Bairstow to slash one wide of the off-stump and the batter obliged by hitting in the air. Nortje grabbed the chance.

The wily Maharaj then foxed England skipper Jos Buttler by taking the pace off a delivery which he hit straight to deep midwicket, where Klaasen did not make any mistake.

Moeen Ali (9) was bounced out by Baartman with Maharaj taking the catch as England skidded to 61 for four around the halfway mark.

Earlier, South Africa squandered a blistering start by Quinton de Kock (65) as England managed to keep the Proteas to a low total.

With De Kock (68, 4×4, 4×6) going hammer and tongs to take the scoring rate to nearly 10 an over for most of their first half, England fought back hard with regular wickets courtesy excellent fielding which remained the highlight of their effort.

Apart from De Kock’s fireworks, David Miller’s late resistance, 43 off 28 balls (4×4, 2×6), saved SA the blushes.

From 86 for no loss at one stage, South Africa had slipped to 113 for four by the 15th over, losing the momentum.

Amid the steady fall of wickets at one end, Miller held his ground and his late charge helped South Africa go past the 150-mark.

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