England qualify for the T20 World Cup semi-finals as Group 1 winners despite 10-run defeat to South Africa; watch New Zealand vs Afghanistan followed by Pakistan vs Scotland from 9.30am on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Cricket
By Ben Kosky
Last Updated: 06/11/21 6:16pm
England sealed their T20 World Cup semi-final place – but lost both their unbeaten record and opener Jason Roy, who limped off injured during a 10-run defeat to South Africa in Sharjah.
Roy pulled up with a calf strain as he responded to Jos Buttler’s call for a single and was visibly emotional as he had to be helped from the field, making him a serious doubt for the remainder of the tournament.
Eoin Morgan’s men also suffered their first reverse of the World Cup, with South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada taking a hat-trick in the final over as his side successfully defended a total of 189-2.
HAT-TRICK FOR RABADA! ???
? Watch ? https://t.co/bT0CP9Q8No
? Live blog ?
England could only manage 179-8 in reply, although they still finished top of Group 1 on run-rate, while the result was not enough to take the Proteas through to the last four alongside them.
England now face the runners-up in Group 2 – likely to be New Zealand, Afghanistan or India – in the first semi-final on Wednesday, while Australia, who beat West Indies earlier in the day, will feature in Thursday’s second semi.
Having been put in by Morgan, South Africa suffered an early setback when Reeza Hendricks fell victim to the low bounce and was bowled by the impressive Moeen Ali for two.
Moeen, who sent down all four of his overs up front, was the pick of the bowlers (1-27) but, after recording a fairly modest 40 in the powerplay, Quinton de Kock and Rassie van der Dussen (94 not out from 60) then began to accelerate.
Chris Jordan might have removed Van der Dussen with a ball that kept on and struck him on the back pad, but England’s review reverted to umpire’s call – and the batter made the most of his escape, employing the ramp and paddle shots to raise the tempo.
The partnership reached 71 from 52 balls before Adil Rashid tempted De Kock (34 from 27) to drive him into the safe hands of Roy at long-off, yet that paved the way for Aiden Markram (52no from 25) to take up the baton in style.
He and Van der Dussen took advantage of the short leg-side boundary, with Chris Woakes disappearing over the fence three times in a single over and Jordan smashed over mid-off for another maximum that took Markram to his half-century from 24 balls.
Van der Dussen finished off proceedings with another big six as the duo flayed 72 from the last five overs, setting England the task of a record Sharjah run-chase to maintain their 100 per cent record.
However, Roy and Buttler set about the target in belligerent mood, with the latter hitting Rabada for successive boundaries as England raced to 38 without loss at the start of the fifth over.
But then came the moment that forced a tearful Roy out of the game and Moeen replaced him at the crease, helping Buttler (26 from 15) to bring up the 50 before the right-hander slammed Anrich Nortje into the hands of mid-off.
Tabraiz Shamsi (2-24) then applied the pressure, sending down two tight overs and trapping Jonny Bairstow leg before with a ball that skidded through to leave England effectively three down for 59.
Dawid Malan (33 from 26) and Moeen steadied the ship as they built a stand of 51, with Moeen (37 from 27) thrashing Tabraiz Shamsi for the six that confirmed England as group winners before holing out to long-on from the next ball.
? LIVINGSTONE SPECIAL! ?
Although qualification was by now slipping away, South Africa still looked favourites for the match, with 65 still required from the last five overs – only for Liam Livingstone (28 from 17) to blaze Rabada for three consecutive sixes.
But Livingstone fell to Dwaine Pretorius (2-30) in the penultimate over and, with Woakes, Morgan and Jordan all caught in the deep off Rabada (3-48), England came up short.
WHICH PLAYERS IMPRESSED?
Moeen underlined his worth again with both bat and ball – as well as capturing an early wicket, the off-spinner never allowed South Africa to gain any traction during the powerplay overs.
When England replied, Roy’s injury was soon followed by two quick wickets and Moeen’s steady innings was just what they needed to regain the initiative, even if he should probably have gone on to register 50.
Livingstone also offered a reminder of his destructive capability with the bat, clubbing Rabada for three sixes in a row during a lively cameo that looked as though it might propel England over the line.
For South Africa, who were always facing an uphill struggle to progress to the semi-finals, Van der Dussen will have provided some cheer – his innovative, fearless strokeplay bringing him a career-best T20I score of 94 not out.
Rabada has to get a mention too – after going for 45 runs in his first three overs, to come back with a hat-trick at the death shows genuine strength of character.
The equation for New Zealand is simple on Sunday – beat Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi and they are into the T20 World Cup semi-finals but lose and they are out.
Victory for the Black Caps would take them to eight points from five games, ensure they progress from Group 2 alongside Pakistan, and eliminate both Afghanistan and India. However, a New Zealand defeat would see Afghanistan leapfrog them into second place on net run-rate.
New Zealand vs Afghanistan
November 7, 2021, 9:30am
Pakistan vs Scotland
November 7, 2021, 1:30pm
If that happens, Afghanistan’s focus will turn to Monday’s match between India and Namibia, as Virat Kohli’s side – who looked all but out of the tournament after crushing defeats to Pakistan and New Zealand in their first two matches – will still be able to move up into second place if they beat Namibia by a big enough margin to better Afghanistan’s net run-rate.
Sunday’s second match sees already-qualified Pakistan take on bottom side Scotland in Sharjah. If New Zealand are victorious against Afghanistan earlier in the day, then Pakistan will need to win to secure top spot in the group. Scotland, meanwhile, are looking to avoid a fifth successive defeat.
The T20 World Cup continues live on Sky Sports Cricket from 9.30am on Sunday. Watch New Zealand vs Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi followed by Pakistan vs Scotland in Sharjah.