By Rex Clementine
England nearly pulled off a stunning win over South Africa in the Super Eight stage of the ICC T-20 World Cup in St. Lucia on Friday after playing catch up for most part of the game.
Chasing 164 to win, the game looked beyond England’s hands at 118 for four as the defending champions needed 46 in 24 balls. The 17th over bowled by Ottneil Baartman saw the game slipping away from South Africa’s hands as 21 runs were scored to reduce the equation to 25 in 18 balls.
It is not uncommon for bowlers to give away that many runs in an over in T-20 cricket in the modern day, but what was bizarre in the Baartman’s over was that he sent down five full tosses which Liam Livingstone and Harry Brook were quick to put away.
South Africa have a formidable attack with Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada giving them the x-factor with their express pace. Baartman has been reliable with his control, but on Friday he completely lost it.
Rabada was called up to send down the 18th over and he helped pull things back giving away just four runs and dismissed Livingstone.
With 21 needed off the last two overs, Marco Jansen showed discipline as only seven runs were scored off the penultimate over.
Nortje was entrusted with the final over with 14 runs to defend. Captain Aidan Markram running back from mid-off took a good catch to dismiss Brook and new batter Jofra Archer found Nortje’s pace too hot to handle. South Africa went on to complete a hard fought seven run win.
Earlier, South Africa were off to an electric start after being put into bat first. They scored 63 off the six overs of Power Play and looked set to post something in excess of 180 but the spin bowlers helped England recover.
After a quiet time in the first round, Quinton de Kock now has back-to-back half-centuries. The wicketkeeper batter smashed 65 off 38 balls with five fours and five sixes.
Heinrich Klaasen was run out by Jos Buttler’s terrific piece of fielding and South Africa lost momentum from that point on. However, David Miller’s 43 off 28 balls enabled the Proteas to finish with 163 for six.
Archer’s first over cost 21 runs but he bounced back well to finish with three wickets.