Nortje, De Kock shine as SA edge England

Published June 22, 2024
GROS ISLET: South African opener Quinton de Kock plays a stroke as England captain Jos Buttler looks on during their Super Eight match at the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium on Friday.—AFP
GROS ISLET: South African opener Quinton de Kock plays a stroke as England captain Jos Buttler looks on during their Super Eight match at the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium on Friday.—AFP

GROS-ISLET: Anrich Nortje held his nerve as South Africa remained unbeaten at the T20 World Cup after defeating reigning champions England by seven runs in a thrilling second-round Super Eights clash in St. Lucia on Friday.

England, chasing a seemingly modest 164 to win, slumped to 61-4 thanks to fine South Africa bowling and fielding before a partnership of 78 between Harry Brook (53) and Liam Livingstone (33) took them to 139-5 in the 18th over.

But, with England needing 14 off the last over, Brook chipped a slower ball from fast bowler Nortje and South Africa captain Aiden Markram held a brilliant diving catch over his shoulder as he ran back from mid-off to end a 37-ball innings featuring seven fours.

Two balls later, Sam Curran struck a four but then refused a single, as that would have left lower-order batsman Jofra Archer on strike.

England now needed nine off two balls but Curran could only manage a single, leaving Archer with an impossible task off the final ball as they finished on 156-6.

It was a fine display under pressure by South Africa, often accused of ‘choking’ at major events, and took them one step closer to a semi-final berth.

“Getting to those last three overs and it looks like to odds are against you, to hang in there and get the win shows a lot of skill, but it comes from a lot deeper than that,” said Markram. “Fighting spirit really helped us today.

“We are getting closer to the complete game. We are not there yet but we are on the right track.”

England captain Jos Buttler said: “Brook and Livingstone had an excellent partnership there to take us so close. “At one stage we were favourites but T20 cricket is never that simple, and credit to South Africa for closing it out.”

He added: “We know we’re still in it. We played well today, we just didn’t quite get over the line.”

Proteas paceman Kagiso Rabada removed the in-form Phil Salt for 11 while fellow England opening partner Buttler managed just 17 before he fell to left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj, who also dismissed Jonny Bairstow in a fine return of 2-32.

“I’d say it was lost in the powerplay,” Buttler said. “Quinton de Kock came out and played with really good intent and we couldn’t really match that.

“I think we were about 20 behind them at the end of our first six (overs).”

South Africa, sent into bat, sprinted to 69-0 off seven overs.

De Kock hit fast bowler Archer for 21 in the fourth over — including two sixes off successive balls.

But he was brilliantly caught by leaping wicket-keeper Buttler off Archer for 65 to end a 38-ball innings featuring four fours and four sixes.

England, however, thought they had dismissed De Kock for 58 only for the third umpire to rule Mark Wood had grassed a low catch in the deep — a key decision in a tight game.

De Kock’s exit sparked a collapse that saw South Africa lose three wickets for 21 runs, with the big-hitting Heinrich Klaasen brilliantly run out by Buttler’s direct hit on the stumps at the non-striker’s end.

But David Miller’s rapid 43 helped take South Africa to 163-6 — and that was just enough.

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2024

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