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45th Match, Super Eights, Group 2, Gros Islet, June 21, 2024, ICC Men's T20 World Cup
(20 ov, T:164) 156/6

South Africa won by 7 runs

Player Of The Match
65 (38)
Cricinfo's MVP
97.76 ptsImpact List

Future hopes meet present needs as Group 2 pace-setters clash in St Lucia

England finding their range after difficult start as SA seek to maintain winning run

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
England roared back with quick wickets to halt West Indies' charge, West Indies vs England, T20 World Cup 2024, Super Eight, Gros Islet, June 19, 2024

England have settled into the tournament after a shaky start  •  AFP/Getty Images

Big picture: Who will give way at the top of Group 2?

What direction is the drama following these two teams going to go in next?
On the face of it, things are going smoothly for South Africa. They are unbeaten at the tournament and have won matches when both setting targets and chasing but, and this is a big but, none of it has been easy. It's not just they were pushed by former champions Sri Lanka (who actually did the least pushing) and fellow Super Eighters Bangladesh but also by three Associates: Netherlands, Nepal and USA. If England were watching, they will have seen the flaws in South Africa's make-up, most notably in the batting. Two of the top three - Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram - have only just found form and the middle-order have not yet had the opportunity to play to their potential.
England will have been more pre-occupied with their own sideshows. They survived a group-stage scare in which they were all but written off after their rain-out against Scotland and have played and lost to their biggest rivals, Australia. Their net-run-rate boosting victories over Oman and Namibia helped ensure their survival once Scotland's challenge had faded, but their most recent win over West Indies could yet propel their campaign to a new level. It is entirely possible that three teams in a Super Eight pool of four could end up with two wins each, especially given USA's underdog status in Group 2, and so net run-rate could provide decisive. England's is currently at 1.34, which leaves them in a good position, and after their shaky start, they would like to think they've got on a roll.
South Africa might argue that they are already on one, and all they have to do is stay consistent with the knockouts in sight. Their next challenge is to maintain their winning start against two former champions. England's task is much less abstract. South Africa humbled them at the 2023 ODI World Cup, in the middle of a horror run they don't want to repeat, and with only USA to come, they have a chance to stamp their authority on this event.

Form guide

South Africa: WWWWW (last five matches, most recent first)
England: WWWLW

In the spotlight: Opening batters and the quickest of the quick

Both Quinton de Kock and Phil Salt played their best innings of the T20 World Cup in their last games with de Kock's 74 setting South Africa up for a big total and Salt's 87* helping England chase 181 against West Indies. Before those knocks, the numbers were not quite what the pair may have liked. De Kock had scores of 20, 0, 18 and 10 and Salt 37, 12 and 11. Starts, for sure and crucial to the tone of the innings, but they were not there at the end. Having players with their aggression bat through could be key on surfaces that seem to have offer runs and so how they perform in the next two matches could be key to their respective team's semi-final hopes.
South Africa have not had the challenge of consistent and genuine pace until now which makes Jofra Archer an interesting opponent. He is England's joint-leading bowler at the tournament so far and has their best economy rate of 6.58 and could prove a handful to a top-order that is still finding its feet at the event. They'll hope to counter-punch through Anrich Nortje , who equalled Dale Steyn's record for the most wickets by a South African at T20 World Cups in the last match, and has looked menacing throughout. Nortje is the tournament's second-highest wicket-taker so far and has been played with respect. Will England's batters, who enjoy pace on, show him the same?

Team news: Changes afoot for both teams?

South Africa are spoilt for choice in the bowling department and opted to bench Ottneil Baartman to accommodate an extra spinner in Antigua. That team composition could work well for them in St Lucia too but Tabraiz Shamsi was expensive against USA and they may consider left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin instead. However, given the variations he offers, Baartman could come back into contention too and it is a case of trying to fit three players into one spot.
South Africa: 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Reeza Hendricks, 3 Aiden Markam, 4 Tristan Stubbs, 5 Heinrich Klaasen (wk), 6 David Miller, 7 Marco Jansen, 8 Keshav Maharaj, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Tabraiz Shamsi/Ottneil Baartman, 11 Anrich Nortje
England stormed to a convincing win with this XI at this venue over West Indies, but the short turnaround means Mark Wood may be due a break from the action after another wholehearted, if unrewarded, display. Chris Jordan is the obvious inclusion, with Sam Curran's left-handed options seemingly established ahead of Will Jacks, who struggled to translate his aggressive intent into runs in his two outings against Australia and Oman.
England: 1 Phil Salt, 2 Jos Buttler (capt, wk), 3 Moeen Ali, 4 Jonny Bairstow, 5 Harry Brook, 6 Liam Livingstone, 7 Sam Curran, 8 Jofra Archer, 9 Adil Rashid, 10 Mark Wood / Chris Jordan, 11 Reece Topley

Pitch and conditions

Runs, and a fair few of them, have been available throughout the matches that have been played here with a first-innings average of 187. However, it's not all smooth sailing for batters. There's good bounce and carry on offer and some grip, which brought England's spinners into play against West Indies. The one unknown is whether playing the match in the morning will make any difference to the conditions as all three matches so far have been night games. Weather-wise, there's rain due over the weekend but the forecast for Friday is clear and humid with peak temperatures at 31 degrees.

Stats and trivia

  • The head-to-head record between England and South Africa is all-square with each team having won 12 matches against the other. At T20 World Cups, South Africa hold the upper hand and have beaten England four times in their six meetings, including their most recent clash in Sharjah in 2021.
  • Anrich Nortje is two wickets away from 50 in T20Is and Tabraiz Shamsi one away from 300 in all T20s.
  • Jos Buttler needs 19 more runs to become the ninth batter to 1,000 in all T20s this year. Currently, there are five South Africans with that many for 2024: Reeza Hendricks, Matthew Breetzke, Rassie van der Dussen, Heinrich Klaasen and Ryan Rickelton.
  • Quotes

    Kagiso Rabada's one-word answer when asked if South Africa are peaking at the right time
    "A lot of people say you learn when you lose, but I truly believe you learn when you win as well. It's important to reflect on what we did well today. We had a good performance, now we'll put that to bed and focus on the next performance."
    England's Jos Buttler has had enough with the platitudes about the gains from losing.

    Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent for South Africa and women's cricket

    Win Probability
    SA 100%
    100%50%100%SA InningsENG Innings

    Over 20 • ENG 156/6

    Harry Brook c Markram b Nortje 53 (37b 7x4 0x6 50m) SR: 143.24
    South Africa won by 7 runs
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    ICC Men's T20 World Cup

    Super Eights, Group 1
    Super Eights, Group 2
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