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T20 World Cup: South Africa maintain unbeaten run after beating England by seven runs

Gros Islet (St Lucia), June 22: South Africa held their nerve to survive a late counterattack from Harry Brook and Liam Livingstone and maintain their unbeaten run in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 with a seven-run win over England in the Super Eight stage clash at the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium on Friday.

Under glorious sunshine, England restricted South Africa to 163/6, despite a blazing 63 from Quinton de Kock. The defending champions were left in tatters at 61-4 before Brook hit a calculated 53 and shared a sensational 78-run standoff 42 balls for the fifth wicket with Liam Livingstone, who smashed a 17-ball 33. England needed 25 from 18 balls to ace the chase, but South Africa gave away only 17 runs in the last three overs to keep them to 156/6 and seal a thrilling last-over win to be now on top of Group 2.

Keshav Maharaj and Kagiso Rabada took two wickets each for the Proteas while a brilliant Anrich Nortje and an erring Ottneil Baartman took a scalp apiece. Chasing 164, Phil Salt began positively with a pulled six and lofted four, before Reeza Hendricks leapt to his left to take a catch at cover on a drive off Rabada.

The fast-bowling spearhead could have got his second wicket when Jonny Bairstow slashed to deep third man, who could not hold on to the chance. After England’s Power-play ended at 41/1, the defending champions suffered a meltdown as Bairstow cut straight to diving backward point and Jos Buttler pulled straight to deep mid-wicket off Maharaj.

When Baartman had Moeen Ali pulling to deep mid-wicket, England were in deep trouble at 61/4 in 10.2 overs. But Livingstone and Brook began to accelerate – the former began by slogging Nortje’s pacy ball for four, while the latter swept Maharaj and cut Jansen for a brace of fours. England took full advantage of Rabada’s pace-on deliveries as Livingstone swiped him with the wind for six, followed by Brook cutting and scooping for two fours to take 18 runs off the 15th over.

Nortje continued to bowl pace-on balls and Brook made merry by lofting over mid-off and nailing back foot drive to take two fours. Baartman missed his lengths as he bowled three full tosses, which Livingstone duly dispatched for two fours and a six. Brook then chipped him over mid-on for four as 21 runs came off the 17th over. Though Livingstone mishit a Rabada full-toss to deep backward square leg, Brook got his fifty in 35 balls as the equation became 14 runs needed off the final over. But Nortje deceived him with a slower ball, which he chipped in the air, and Aiden Markram, running backwards from mid-off, took a brilliant catch over his right shoulder, which effectively sealed the game in South Africa’s favour.

Earlier, South Africa cruised to 69/0 off seven overs, but England fought back by switching to pace-off deliveries to keep the Proteas to a below-par total. After conceding 21 runs in his first over, Jofra Archer gave away 19 runs and took three crucial wickets.

Adil Rashid kept things tight with his spell of 1-20, while Ali had figures of 1-25 in England putting the brakes on South Africa’s run-scoring, who didn’t have anyone to step up barring de Kock’s 65 and David Miller’s 43.

Pushed into batting first, Reeza Hendricks struggled to get going. But de Kock had other ideas –- dancing down the pitch twice to cart Moeen for six and four in the second over. He proceeded to whip and smack Archer for consecutive sixes, followed by ramping him over short third-man to take 17 runs off him in a 21-run fourth over. De Kock hit two more boundaries to make it a glowing Power-play for South Africa, as they ended the phase at 63 runs, without losing a wicket for the first time in the competition. After bringing up his fifty in 22 balls, de Kock earned a reprieve when his slog-sweep off Rashid was caught by deep backward square leg. But third umpire Joel Wilson turned the decision to not out -– as replays showed the ball touched the ground before Mark Wood got his fingers under the ball. England finally struck when a struggling Hendricks miscued the slog to long-on off Moeen to end the 86-run opening stand.

England staged a comeback from there as Jos Buttler took a stunning one-handed leaping catch to send de Kock back for a 38-ball 65 off Archer. Buttler produced another moment of magic when his sharp direct hit caught Heinrich Klaasen short of the crease at the non-strikers’ end. Miller took two quick boundaries off Wood and Rashid to stage a fightback but lost Aiden Markram from the other end after the South Africa captain chopped onto his stumps off a loopy slower ball from the latter.

Miller made full use of Wood’s short balls by pulling him twice for fours, followed by Tristan Stubbs glancing him for another boundary as the duo took 13 runs off the 16th over. Miller smacked Archer and Curran for a six each, to set the stage for a flourishing finish. But Miller fell for 43 in the final over off Archer, as long-off timed his jump well to take an excellent low catch.

Archer was on a hat-trick when he had Marco Jansen slicing to cover and fall for a golden duck. Though he didn’t get the hat-trick, Archer gave away eight runs in the last over to keep South Africa below 165. Brief scores: South Africa 163/6 in 20 overs (Quinton de Kock 65, David Miller 43; Jofra Archer 3-40) beat England 156/6 in 20 overs (Harry Brook 53, Liam Livingstone 33; Keshav Maharaj 2-25, Kagiso Rabada 2-32) by seven runs.

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