TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
NEITHER Hashim Amla’s fastest T20 half-century, nor Quinton de Kock’s career-best score in the format, nor JP Duminy’s first 50 of any flavour for SA in more than five months were enough to stave off defeat by England in a World T20 match in Mumbai on Friday night.
Only five totals in the 540 T20 internationals yet played have been higher than the 229/6 SA put on the board. Until, that is, England replied with 230/8 – the second-highest successful run chase in T20 history – to win with two balls to spare.
“We’ve all played this game long enough to know that no score is unchaseable – that was the message to the bowlers,” Faf du Plessis said.
Clearly, that message didn’t get through: SA conceded 26 runs in extras.
England, stung by a six-wicket loss to West Indies at the same venue on Wednesday, knew they had to win to avoid a probable first-round exit from the tournament.
Friday night’s result transferred that pressure onto the shoulders of SA, who will be all too aware that they can ill afford to lose to plucky qualifiers Afghanistan in Mumbai on Sunday.
And to think SA beat much the same England side 2-0 in their T20 series last month. What a difference a few weeks, a change of conditions, and the expectation that follows every team to major events makes.
De Kock’s 52 powered an opening stand of 96 in which Amla clipped 58, 50 of them off 25 balls.
Duminy’s 54 not out ended a lean run of 17 completed innings across all formats in which he had not scored a half-century at international level. He put on 60 with David Miller for the unbroken fifth wicket.
England’s reply was driven by Joe Root, whose 83 ended with 10 balls left in the match and England needing 11 to win. Root and Jos Buttler added 75 for the fifth wicket, England’s only half-century stand.
It was an evening of emphatic batting, as underlined by the fact that the 44 runs scored off the first two overs of England’s innings are the most ever hammered in the first dozen deliveries of a T20 innings.
As many as 324 of the 459 runs scored in the game flew and flowed in boundaries, or more than 70%.
But it was also a match of ragged bowling by both sides; more so by SA. Kagiso Rabada took the new ball and went for 21 runs in his first over. Dale Steyn shared that ball and was promptly drilled for 23 runs.
England bowled two wides, which cost two runs. SA sent down 10 wides – which realised 20 runs.
For all that, off-spinner Moeen Ali and leg spinner Adil Rashid could make a strong argument that they won the match for England by limiting SA to 14 runs and dismissing Amla between the start of the 11th over and the end of the 13th.
England lost no wickets and scored 42 runs in the same overs, which were bowled by Chris Morris, Duminy and Steyn.
Going into that period of their respective innings, SA were 125/2 and England were 118/4. In short, there was nothing in it.
There still isn’t. Not in SA’s win column, anyway.