South Africa continue unbeaten run in T20 World Cup with tense win over England

south africa continue unbeaten run in t20 world cup with tense win over england

South Africa's Kagiso Rabada (L) celebrates after England's Liam Livingstone is caught out during the ICC men's Twenty20 World Cup 2024 Super Eight cricket match between England and South Africa at Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium in Gros Islet, Saint Lucia, on June 21, 2024. (Photo by Chandan Khanna / AFP)

South Africa bowlers kept their cool to eke out a seven-run win over title holders England in their T20 World Cup Super Eight match in Gros Islet on Friday.

Quinton de Kock looked the most comfortable on another difficult surface as his 65 from 38 balls set the stage for what looked like a 200 plus score.

But as the pitch slowed up, so did the scoring as England spinners and then the seamers used the surface to take the pace off the ball and dry up the runs. A laboured second half of the innings saw South Africa post 163-6.

England found the going equally tough as South Africa's bowlers pegged them back early. But a counter-attacking partnership by middle order batsmen Harry Brook (53) and Liam Livingstone (33) brought the defending champions back into the match.

And just as the match seemed to be slipping away, South Africa's experienced pacers Kagiso Rabada, Marcon Jansen and Anrich Nortje bowled expertly at the death to restrict England to 156-6.

South Africa thus extended their unbeaten run in the tournament; they have won six out of six matches so far.

Earlier, the Proteas were well-placed at 92-1 after losing the toss, with De Kock having struck Jofra Archer for 21 in the fourth over, including two sixes off successive balls.

But De Kock was brilliantly caught by leaping England captain and wicketkeeper Jos Buttler off Archer for 65 to end a 38-ball innings featuring four fours and four sixes.

And from 92-1 in the 12th over, South Africa lost three wickets for 21 runs to be 113-4, with the big-hitting Heinrich Klaasen brilliantly run out by Buttler's direct hit on the stumps at the non-striker's end.

David Miller made a rapid 43 before he was well caught in the deep off fast bowler Archer, who finished with 3-40 from his maximum four overs.

England did not fare much better. Their top order misread the conditions, labouring to 60-3 off 10 overs, and without Brook, England would have been staring at an even bigger defeat.

His daring 53 from 37 balls briefly positioned his side as favourites during a 78-run stand with Liam Livingstone (33), but it was not to be. With 14 needed off the final over, he was caught magnificently over the shoulder by Aiden Markram off Nortje's opening delivery - a match-winning piece of handiwork from the South African skipper.

England will kick themselves for a lack of timing and intent earlier in their pursuit, with a paltry return of three fours and one six in their first 11 overs at the crease.

Jos Buttler's men now move on to Barbados to face the United States, where victory is not guaranteed to send them through to the semi-finals. Instead it could come down to net run-rate once again should the West Indies beat South Africa in the group finale.

England captain Buttler admitted the game was lost in the powerplay as his batsmen were unable to match the intent of the Proteas and De Kock.

"I would say [match was lost] in the powerplay. Quinton de Kock came out with a lot of intent, really attacked that powerplay and we couldn't match that. We were quite happy chasing 160 but I thought they bowled well," he said.

"I thought we came back really well with the ball. I thought Brook and Livi had a fantastic partnership there to take us close, and at one point looking like favourites. But it doesn't work like that in T20 cricket, and South Africa closed out well."

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