England v South Africa, World T20, Group E, Barbados May 8, 2010

Pietersen sets up emphatic victory

The Bulletin by Liam Brickhill

England 168 for 7 (Pietersen 53, Botha 2-15) beat South Africa 129 (Duminy 39, Sidebottom 3-23) by 39 runs
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details
England - How they were out
South Africa - How they were out

England completed a clinical 39-run win over South Africa at the Kensington Oval to get one foot in the semi-finals. The win was set up by a blistering half century from Kevin Pietersen, who added 94 for the second wicket with Craig Kieswetter as England got the better of South Africa's pace-heavy attack to post 168 for 7. England's spin duo of Michael Yardy and Graeme Swann then picked up 5 for 55 between them to run through the middle order, and were well backed up by the seamers as South Africa were rolled over for 129.

South Africa seem to bring out the best in Pietersen, and his match-winning knock today came in the nick of time as he will return to the UK in the next 24 hours to be present at the birth of his son. Provided there are no complications, he will return to the Caribbean in time for the semi-finals, which England now have a very strong chance of reaching.

The first signs that South Africa had misread a slightly tacky surface in opting for an attack based around quick bowling came when Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel were carted for 90 in a combined eight overs in the midst of Pietersen and Kieswetter's barnstorming partnership, while Johan Botha went for a miserly 15 and picked up wickets at important moments.

Steyn was smeared for three momentum-seizing boundaries in his first over and Morkel, perhaps trying too hard to live up to the pre-match hype about the pace and bounce of the Barbados pitch, overstepped twice in his first over. He bounced back to find the edge of Pietersen's bat with a rising delivery on off stump, but was left livid as Mark Boucher behind the stumps and Jacques Kallis at slip watched leaden-footed as the chance flew between them.

A clearly flustered South African unit looked to Charl Langeveldt to stem the flow, but after giving away an unnecessary five wides with a ballooning half-tracker in his first over, he was dispatched for 16 in his second - including a monstrous mow over long off by Kieswetter - to leave England well-placed at 65 for 1 after the Powerplay and the two batsmen peacocking haughtily mid-pitch.

The introduction of Kallis's experienced head to the attack, and the return of Botha, introduced a measure of calm to proceedings but South Africa's uncharacteristically sloppy fielding performance continued when JP Duminy put down a lollipop at deep midwicket to give Kieswetter a life.

Graeme Smith, desperately searching for a wicket, brought Steyn back into the attack, but his comeback over was duly carted for 16 as Pietersen charged to his half century from just 30 deliveries. Smith stuck with the economical Botha, and the entire South African team breathed a sigh of relief when a catch finally stuck as Pietersen was picked up at short fine leg to give the offspinner his second wicket.

When Kieswetter got underneath a lofted mow and Steyn held the chance at long on. South Africa sensed an opening, and when Paul Collingwood and Luke Wright fell on either side of another leaky over from Steyn, it looked as though they could keep England to a relatively modest total. And indeed, with Langeveldt finding the blockhole with unerring accuracy at the death and Eoin Morgan suffering a rare failure to finish an innings, South Africa's seamers came back from a shaky start to restrict England after it had looked like a total of 200 was on the cards.

South Africa's Powerplay was the antithesis of England's as Smith and Kallis chose to bide their time rather than attack and Tim Bresnan provided the metronomic accuracy to restrict the flow of runs. The pressure soon told, as Kallis toe-ended a drive straight to Pietersen at mid off in the fifth over.

It had been spin that made the breakthrough for South Africa when Pietersen and Kieswetter's power hitting was threatening to take the game out of their reach, and when Yardy struck to remove Herschelle Gibbs with his first ball of the match it was apparent that spin would be the deciding factor in this match. Yardy's wicket owed everything to Ryan Sidebottom's remarkable leaping catch running back from short fine leg.

Graeme Swann was brought into the attack in the very next over and almost immediately had Smith in trouble with his guileful variations as the South African captain was caught at deep midwicket off a desperate, top-edged sweep.

Albie Morkel was next, propping half forward to a delivery from Yardy that turned in a touch only to be bowled through a massive gap between bat and pad. The procession continued in Swann's next over as AB de Villiers went to pull a short ball over midwicket but top-edged and was well-caught by Collingwood to leave South Africa on 53 for 5 needing more than 11 runs an over.

They could soon have sunk further into the mire had Kieswetter not fluffed a simple stumping chance, but the miss was not a costly one, as Boucher chipped to midwicket soon after to hasten South Africa's slide. Sidebottom completed a superb day in the field with two wickets in his final over - the first from a sharp caught-and-bowled chance - to wrap up a resounding win and take England one step closer to the semi-finals.

Liam Brickhill is an assistant editor at ESPN Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • B on May 10, 2010, 9:37 GMT

    @ BillW fair play for your explanation there. Boring though it is, the truth of the matter is that the make up of the present English team seems to reflect the bigger picture in 'England'. England is referred to as 'Britain' over here and is the only 'British' nation without it's own parliament. Therefore if Scots/Irish/Welsh politicians are allowed to make decisions on English issues (which they are), why shouldn't a cricketer with a Scottish mum (Kieswetter) be allowed to play for England? If the ICC brought in a strict origin rule, the political ramifications in England would probably result in the population being halved!

  • Bill on May 9, 2010, 22:48 GMT

    I'm not whining (I'm a kiwi - I've no vested interest in this particular game either way) and I'm not trying to drag things down, but everyone here, commentators and comment makers alike, is referring to the teams as the countries, and, apart from England, as far as I can see, most of the players originate from those countries. Re the rugby reference - I don't follow rugby but I probably agree with you. I do recall that when a New Zealand team won the Americas Cup yacht race a couple of times, rich Americans and Europeans came with open cheque books - now the same sailors win but for foreign syndicates. Yes, England is the home of cricket - it just makes it that much stranger that they can't field a strong team of English players (you should see the size of the pool the kiwis have to draw on!)

    And yes, the English bowlers did do well, helped by 2 catches by Morgan and one by Pieterson :)

    I do think we should either stop calling teams by country names, or have some origin rule.

  • Dummy4 on May 9, 2010, 21:29 GMT

    I dont think Australia will be playing in the final.

  • Ben on May 9, 2010, 18:45 GMT

    An England Australia final would be the right result, but after that who knows? Australias pace Vs Englands hitting could be the ultimate spectacle... But can anyone tell me why Nannes can play for Australia and Holland inside 12 months?

  • Douglas on May 9, 2010, 13:41 GMT

    England's commitment and co9nviction yesterday was terrific. They outplayed the SA guys completely. I was shocked by the approach of the SA openers. i was expecting an aggressive attitude but they came out playing defensively. Wrong start!!! If England can maintain this confidence they can make the final. I have a feeling the the Aussies may be peaking a little too early. We shall see.

  • Dummy4 on May 9, 2010, 13:06 GMT

    England end south Africa dream, Well Done!

  • Steve on May 9, 2010, 11:36 GMT

    Although I think that Australia will win the tournament at a canter, it's great to see England continue to progress and improve in limited overs cricket. They actually seem to have plans now and when they face the spinners it's not just a constant sweep-fest.

    I'm surprised it took all the way up to @BillW, by the way, for someone to be whining about nationality issues. Well done, mate.

  • B on May 9, 2010, 10:00 GMT

    @BillW Funny the way that the 'South Africans' in the English team batted so well...and yet the best 11 men South Africa could muster were unable to bat against the ENGLISH bowling attack...

  • Mark on May 9, 2010, 8:27 GMT

    Be careful what you wish for simon_w, BillW has made a try to drag it down a bit! Strangely, no one makes the same comments about antipodean rugby sides ("ah! But that's different!") England now have to do something that they singularly failed to do last year in the Champions Trophy: the game v NZ is almost a dead rubber and England play it without KP. Last year they relaxed, lost and lost momentum. This year we'll see how much grit there is in the side. Right now they are looking good for a spot in the Final.

  • Jay on May 9, 2010, 7:55 GMT

    In South Africa, the TV commentators harp on that the English team would collapse if it werent for the Saffies. See the trend continues here, so just for my personal education, how many of the Saffies in the England side are born to Saffa parents and grew up (spent more than half their life) in SA?

    I know KP did, but not sure bout the others

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