Sidney Kiran: A determined England pulled off a mighty coup, overpowering South Africa in a thrilling high-speed chase to inject life into their World T20 campaign that appeared in complete tatters here on Friday.
Set a daunting 230 for victory after Hashim Amla (58, 31b, 7×4, 3×6), Quinton de Kock (52, 24b, 7×4, 3×6) and JP Duminy (54 not out, 28b, 3×4, 3×6) went berserk on a belter of a wicket at the Wankhede Stadium, England, turbo-charged by some sensational batting from Joe Root (83, 44b, 6×4, 4×6) and Jason Roy (43, 16b, 5×4, 3×6), romped home with two balls and as many wickets to spare and leave everyone spellbound.
Aware the only way to surmount the sixth highest T20I total of all time was to come out all guns blazing, the fearless England batsmen did just that, battering a stunned South African bowling attack into submission as the Mumbai crowd lapped every bit of the entertainment.
Opener Roy set the tone for the spectacular counter-attack, taking apart young fast bowler Kagiso Rabada for four boundaries that saw him concede 21 runs. Roy’s partner Alex Hales, dropped off the very first ball, sent premier pacemen Dale Steyn carting for 23 runs as England raced to 44 in just two overs to signal their intentions.
Pacer Kyle Abbott, introduced in the third over, trapped Hales leg before wicket but the heavy run flow never ceased as the in-coming Ben Stokes and and Roy kept flaying their bats. They kept going at the rate of knots, leaving the South Africans clueless.
The dismissals of Roy and Stokes, both forced to play one shot too many in pursuit of the record World T20 chase, offered the Proteas a sneak-in but the young Root had other ideas. Despite his skipper Eoin Morgan too falling with still 119 runs needed off 62 balls, the Yorkshireman never wavered.
Knowing that England’s hopes rested on his shoulders, the 25-year-old, hailed as the future captain, took apart the South African attack to smithereens. He rarely allowed them to settle down, playing shots all round the wicket.
Root departed after taking England very close to the finish line, the Three Lions needing 11 runs off 10 balls. He appeared distraught and the England almost seemed to commit harakiri with Jordan and Willey following him into the dugout in the very last over. But Mooen Ali got the winning runs as England celebrated a famous win, the second highest chase in T20 internationals and the highest in World T20.
Before Root’s assault, England appeared in extreme danger of taking the earliest possible flight after watching South Africa rake in a mammoth total. Opting to field first after being undone by the dew against the West Indies where they failed to defend a competitive 183, Morgan looked distraught as de Kock and Amla went after their bowlers.
While de Kock was punishing, dispatching anything in his vicinity through the covers, Amla killed England softly with his silken stroke play. Dummy added some late fireworks but that wasn’t enough as Root’s masterpiece stole the limelight and put England back on track.
Amla lbw Ali 58
(31b, 7×4, 3×6)
De Kock c Hales b Ali 52
(24b, 7×4, 3×6)
De Villiers c Morgan b Rashid 16
Du Plessis c Roy b Willey 17
Duminy (not out) 54
(28b, 3×4, 3×6)
Miller (not out) 28
(12b, 2×4, 2×6)
Extras (B-2, W-2) 4
Total (for 4 wkts, 20 overs) 229
Fall of wickets: 1-96, 2-114, 3-133, 4-169.
Bowling: Willey 4-0-40-1, Topley 2-0-33-0, Ali 4-0-34-2, Jordan 3-0-49-0, Stokes 2-0-23-0, Rashid 4-0-35-1, Root 1-0-13-0.
Roy c de Kock b Abbott 43
(16b, 5×4, 3×6)
Hales lbw Abbott 17
Stokes c Morris b Rabada 15
(9b, 1×4, 1×6)
Root c Miller b Rabada 83
(44b, 6×4, 4×6)
Morgan b Duminy 12
Buttler st de Kock b Tahir 21
(14b, 1×4, 1×6)
Ali (not out) 12
Jordan c Duminy b Abbott 5
Willey (run out) 0
Rashid (not out) 0
Extras (W-20, LB-2) 22
Total (for 8 wkts, 19.4 overs) 230
Fall of wickets: 1-48, 2-71, 3-87, 4-111, 5-186, 6-219, 7-229, 8-229.
Bowling: Rabada 4-0-50-2 (W-2), Steyn 2-0-35-0 (W-1), Abbott 3.4-0-41-3 (W-2), Tahir 4-0-28-1 (W-2), Duminy 3-0-31-1, Morris 3-0-43-0.