England v SA, World T20, Group 1, Chittagong March 29, 2014

De Villiers blitz leads South Africa into semis


South Africa 196 for 5 (De Villiers 69, Amla 56) beat England (Hales 38, Parnell 3-31) by three runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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Video report - England hopes Chitta-gone

AB de Villiers returned to South Africa's Twenty20 captaincy in inspirational fashion by producing his country's fastest fifty and assuring his side of a place in the semi-finals of World T20. England were eliminated, foundering in the face of the biggest total of the tournament, their batsmen never really threatening to win it but doing well to take the game so close.

The highest successful chase against South Africa in any T20 was only 169, by New Zealand in East London, the additional 28 runs needed here a powerful indication of England's task. It did not matter how decent the pitch, how much a wet ball hampered the bowlers or skidded past the fielders, this was a demand too far for an England batting side that had already rescued victory against Sri Lanka and could not quite find a repeat.

As for De Villiers, he can rarely have looked more combative. Forced to assume the captaincy because of a one-game ban for Faf du Plessis for over-rate violations, he lost the toss but hardly put a foot wrong after that. His half-century came in 23 balls, in all he made 69 not out from 28, dropped only once, in the final over, when Moeen Ali seemed to lose the ball momentarily in the floodlights.

South Africa, who lost headway in the third quarter of the innings, racked up 55 from the last three overs, with de Villiers' innings increasingly characterised by decisive moves across his stumps and flays through the leg side. Bowlers, stringently punished for too much width, were not blessed with options.

South Africa had not just been disrupted by du Plessis's absence, Wayne Parnell had also been summoned by a Mumbai court with the tournament in full swing to answer drug-related charges occurring during his 2012 IPL campaign. "Unfortunate, but we must respect the law," had been South Africa's measured response, but they will have delighted at how Parnell returned with figures of 3 for 31, and no allegations of artificial stimulation in sight. Alex Hales and Moeen Ali were dismissed in successive balls.

Hales, who had registered England's first T20 hundred in the victory against Sri Lanka, had attacked the huge target with a stately disdain, reaching 38 from 22 balls before slicing to deep cover. By the time that Eoin Morgan fell cutting Imran Tahir, England were sorely in need of a big over. They found it with 17 off an over from Beuran Hendricks, Buttler's straight six beginning to find its range, but his reverse sweep against Tahir fell obligingly to Albie Morkel at backward point.

Tahir's return of 2 for 27 was a masterly display of legspin in defiance of the wet ball. Morkel dislocated a finger in taking the catch and his yelp of pain minutes later as the physio popped it back in the viewing area was not quite drowned out by South Africa's excited anticipation of an impending victory.

England were ahead of South Africa's rate almost throughout their innings, but they lacked for a de Villiers finale. Suitably, their chase was all but lost with the captain's running catch from mid off to dismiss Chris Jordan. Ravi Bopara clipped the rate to 22 off the final over, but the bowler was Steyn, with a fearsome Mohican haircut to boot, Bopara mis-hit his first ball skywards and that was about that.

The match was billed, essentially, as a quarterfinal, although that assessment was slightly insulting to Netherlands as it assumed England would beat them in their final match. As likely as that might be, Netherlands have had their moments in Bangladesh.

For all de Villiers' brilliance, and all the closeness of the result, it was an unsatisfying, disjointed affair, the impetus of the game disturbed by two brief floodlight failures in South Africa's innings and periodic ball changes and outfield drying on another humid, dew-ridden night. The saving grace was that the ball came onto the bat so the cricket, when it happened, was entertaining, but it all took more than four hours to conclude.

England's focus will rest on an accident-prone over from Jade Dernbach, the 18th, which cost 26 and gave South Africa the propulsion they needed. He began badly with two overpitched gifts for David Miller, almost had Miller caught down the leg side by Buttler, bowled a beamer with a wet ball (the ball was immediately changed), delivered three wides, one of which de Villiers made contact with but was wrongly called by umpire Rod Tucker. To round things off, a slower ball was planted out of the ground by de Villiers to bring up his fifty.

South Africa's other innings of note came from Hashim Amla. Extraordinarily, it was his first T20I half-century in his 25th match. For England, who still have memories of his serene Test triple-century at The Oval two years ago, the statistic was impossible to comprehend.

Buttler rued it more than most. There had been over-excitable talk in England that he might even press for a Test wicketkeeping spot this summer if Matt Prior did not rediscover his form of old. For all Buttler's promise, such talk is premature. He missed a simple stumping off Moeen Ali, who drew Amla down the pitch and beat his attempted whip over long on, only for Buttler to fumble the opportunity.

As Amla already had 19 from 12 balls, having flicked Dernbach imperiously over square leg for six, Buttler needed no elucidation on his error, but he got one anyway as Amla repeated the shot, this time perfectly, and plopped the ball into the crowd. By the time Amla swung Stuart Broad to deep midwicket, South Africa's opening stand was worth 90 in 10.5 overs. Buttler gained some recompense by stumping Quinton de Kock.

Duminy's exit was careless; comical even. He hacked Jordan into the leg side where the catch fell short of Ravi Bopara, but Bopara threw swiftly to the keeper's end and Duminy, who had dropped his bat as he evaded Jordan while turning for a second, was a yard short as he dived hopelessly for the crease. De Villiers was at the other end though, and his defining innings had barely begun.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 31, 2014, 6:39 GMT

    AB's captaincy was awesome.

  • Paulo on March 31, 2014, 5:59 GMT

    @JG2704 good points raised mate. Re associates I apologize, if you say you weren't being dismissive that's good enough for me.

    I need to proofread my posts. Stupid spelling mistakes such as the wrong "your" kill the meaning.

    Also when I said South Africa winning thr group I meant on top. Anybody with an ounce of common sense would realize that they can only win if today's match is called off

    Re 170 batting first being the same as 190 chasing, fair enough point.

  • kabelo on March 31, 2014, 2:35 GMT

    you cannot take rejections of the SA A side because thier are jobless and expect miracles...it worked for a while(Trott, KP, Prior(excuse the pun), Strauss etc...now you persist with jade dernbach...pathetic...Ask the ECB to take another tour of the UK to find players you can call "your own" ie Morgan lol...

    Maybe England should consider playing homegrown players in the team, maybe it would increase the patriotism in the team which is obviously missing since the 5-0 Ashes saga

  • Dummy4 on March 31, 2014, 2:16 GMT

    DL method is completely wrong , just imagine Aus vs Pak match, In ten overs Australia was far above than pakistan but finally Aus lost the match... If rain came at that point , Aus could have won the match by DL method by big margin.... DL always controversial for T20 matches

  • Alistair on March 31, 2014, 1:40 GMT

    @Amol_Ind_SA - c`mon - SA just won the U-19 ICC T20 World Cup about a month ago! wouldnt it be great if the boys can win this one as well.

    I have to say, Amla has silenced the critics very very quickly. He has been amazing at the top. It appears that De Kock has fallen back a bit since Amla has taken the reigns at the top of the order. If he can come out and play his natural game with Amla - we could see 70 runs in the powerplay.

    Once again, as in ODI`s and tests - when Amla and De Villiers are firing - we seem to be winning them! great job by AB and Amla!

  • John on March 30, 2014, 21:12 GMT

    @PureProteas49 on (March 30, 2014, 10:32 GMT) Right - so your saying that you experimented because you had such a big total and the team didn't particularly want to finish the game off in any hurry?

  • John on March 30, 2014, 21:09 GMT

    @CodAndChips ctd - re NZ - chasing 170 is not that much different from setting 190. Let me try and put my views across. Vs SL at the halfway point SL were 70-1. If they were chasing a 189 target I would not back them (even against our guys) to chase 119 off the remaining 10. Same with SA to a degree. They were 85-0 after 10 and 121-3 after 15 and ended up on 196. Had they been chasing I would not have backed them to get 75 off the last 5 overs. While I'm not arguning that I'd have made NZ favourites from that position we still have to factor in that our dryer bowlers hadn't bowled at that stage and it was such a long way to go. My opinion is that when setting a total , if you have wickets in hand scoring 12 plus an over off the last 5 is much easier when setting a total than when chasing a total

  • John on March 30, 2014, 20:50 GMT

    @CodAnd Chips - To pick you up on a few points

    1 - re "Given the associates barely any chance"(March 30, 2014, 7:14 GMT) - what is meant by that? Are you saying the associates were at an unfair disadvantage for some reason?

    Also re the associates I don't think I've been dismissive at all. Yes I expect us to beat Netherlands but I have given them credit for their competitive displays vs SA and NZ after the SL thrashing. The only other associates to qualify was Bangladesh and they have has a poor tournament

    2 - Re SA winning the group - They haven't yet have they? Surely if SL beat NZ because of the net RR they got from Netherlands win they'd win the group and without looking SA and NZ must be on similarish net RRs so if NZ beat SL comfortably I think they'd win the group.

  • Amol on March 30, 2014, 13:49 GMT

    Come On, SA..Just two more matches to go for an ICC silverware since 1998. Do it.

  • Rob on March 30, 2014, 13:35 GMT

    Prawin Antony on (March 29, 2014, 18:40 GMT) How can SL and NZ both win their last match when they are playing each other?

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