When Eoin Morgan put South Africa in to bat after the coin landed in his favour, there was a loud roar from the stands at the Wankhede Stadium, the biggest turnout of the World Twenty20 so far. While the Mumbaikars were thrilled to see A.B. de Villers in action early in the evening, Morgan’s decision to field first appeared to be a brave one.
At the halfway stage, with South Africa piling on 229 for four, the second highest total in WT20 history, Morgan’s decision was billed as good as suicidal. However, before the floodlights were turned off, Morgan and co. had vindicated their strategy by comfortably overhauling the total to keep their campaign alive.
A chase of 230 requires a team to not only start and finish strongly but continue to pile on the runs even in the so-called middle overs of a 20-over innings. That England’s run rate was better than the asking rate of 11.5 right through its innings speaks volumes about the finesse with which it planned and executed the mammoth chase.
The only blemish
The only blemish for England was the nerves it showed in the dying moments. With one run required off the last over, Chris Jordan tried to end the match in style but could only manage to find Jean-Paul Duminy at deep midwicket to hand Kyle Abbott his third wicket.
David Willey committed hara-kiri off the next ball, resulting in an unnecessary run-out. But Moeen Ali kept his calm to push the ball over the field, that was brought in, to seal a famous win.
Jason Roy and Alex Hales, dropped off the first ball he faced at short fine-leg by Kyle Abbott off Dale Steyn, gave them the blitzkrieg opening. And the middle order then played around Joe Root to ensure England kept pace with the scoring rate.
The stylish Root showcased a combination of traditional strokeplay and improvisation before holing out deep on the leg side when the equation had been reduced to a run a ball.
Root’s silken touch eventually ended up overshadowing the powerplay of South Africa’s batsmen. The opening combination of Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla scored just two runs off Willey’s opening over.
But ever since Reece Topley’s first ball of the next over was sent by the left-handed de Kock over point, it started an onslaught that lasted for the next half hour. At the end of the Power Play, South Africa’s openers had amassed 83 runs, 76 of which came through boundaries (13 fours and four sixes).
Despite Faf du Plessis being unable to get going, Duminy’s quick-fire fifty, the third of the innings, and David Miller’s straight hitting meant South Africa had set a sizeable total.
South Africa innings: Hashim Amla lbw b Ali 58 (31b, 7x4, 3x6), Quinton de Kock c Hales b Ali 52 (24b, 7x4, 3x6), A.B. de Villiers c Morgan b Rashid 16 (8b, 2x6), Faf du Plessis c Roy b Willey 17 (17b, 1x4), Jean-Paul Duminy (not out) 54 (28b, 3x4, 3x6), David Miller (not out) 28 (12b, 2x4, 2x6); Extras (b-2, w-2): 4; Total (for four wkts., in 20 overs): 229.
Fall of wickets: 1-96 (de Kock), 2-114 (de Villiers), 3-133 (Amla), 4-169 (du Plessis).
England bowling: David Willey 4-0-40-1, Reece Topley 2-0-33-0, Moeen Ali 4-0-34-2, Chris Jordan 3-0-49-0, Ben Stokes 2-0-23-0, Adil Rashid 4-0-35-1, Root 1-0-13-0.
England innings: Jason Roy c de Kock b Abbott 43 (16b, 5x4, 3x6), Alex Hales lbw b Abbott 17 (7b, 4x4), Ben Stokes c Morris b Rabada 15 (9b, 1x4, 1x6), Joe Root c Miller b Rabada 83 (44b, 6x4, 4x6), Eoin Morgan b Duminy 12 (15b), Jos Buttler st de Kock b Tahir 21 (14b, 1x4, 1x6), Moeen Ali (not out) 8 (10b, 1x4), Chris Jordan c Duminy b Abbott 5 (3b, 1x4), David Willey run out 0 (0b), Adil Rashid (not out) 0 (0b); Extras (lb-6, w-20): 22; Total (for eight wkts., in 19.4 overs): 230.
Fall of wickets: 1-48 (Hales), 2-71 (Roy), 3-87 (Stokes), 4-111 (Morgan), 5-186 (Buttler), 6-219 (Root), 7-229 (Jordan), 8-229 (Wiley).
South Africa bowling: Kagiso Rabada 4-0-50-2, Dale Steyn 2-0-35-0, Kyle Abbott 3.4-0-41-3, Imran Tahir 4-0-28-1, Jean-Paul Duminy 3-0-31-1, Chris Morris 3-0-39-0.
Player of the Match: Joe Root.
England won by two wickets.