A brilliant innings of 83 by Joe Root helped England to against the odds beat South Africa by two wickets, which will reignite some life into their world cup campaign. The Three Lions who lost to West Indies in their first game were in need of a win to keep their hopes of progression to the next round alive.
Knowing they needed to win, winning the toss was going to be crucial – and England did win the toss – and chose to field. England’s decision to bowl first looked like a doomed one.
Hashim Amla and Quinton De Kock who have established a good understanding at the top of the order put on almost 100 for the first wicket. In fact, both Amla and De Kock both would go on to score quick-fire half-centuries.
Hashim Amla would end up scoring a 31 ball 58 while Quinton De Kock scored a very quick-fire 52 off 24 balls. When both openers did fall as well as the very dangerous AB DeVilliers, the score was 133-3, England would have been thinking that they have a route back into this one.
When Faf Du Pleases was dismissed for a run-a-ball 17, England had already conceded 169 runs. If this pitch was to be judged by how it’s been in the IPL, then one would say that traditionally the Wankhede Stadium has been a good pitch to bat on.
At the start of the match, the Proteas skipper Du Plessis admitted he wasn’t sure what he would have done if he would have won the toss. Having said that, England still wouldn’t have been wanting to chase anything near 200.
Chasing 200, however, is something which England would need to do as they conceded a deficit of 229. A great effort by the South African’s to post such a total, England, on the other hand, were going into their run chase knowing that if they do chase this target down, this would be the second highest in T20 history.
England at the start of their run chase knew they were going to have to go ‘hard’ up front. The run rate for the former T20 winners was over 10 an over, which is difficult to achieve on the face of it.
To their credit, England went about their task admirably, but because they were chasing a high score, wickets fell at regular intervals – and that was threatening to derail their chase. Key batsmen Jason Roy, Alex Hales and Ben Stokes were all back in the pavilion before the score reached 100.
Roy had played a lovely innings of 43 which included five 4’s and three 6’s. England ideally needed the Surrey man to stick around for a bit longer, but when he was dismissed off the bowling of Kyle Abbott and when captain Eoin Morgan was dismissed, it allowed Joss Buttler and Joe Root to steady the innings somewhat.
Between them, Root and Buttler put a crucial 75 for the fifth wicket, but when Buttler was dumped off the bowling Imran Tahir, the pressure was firmly back on England.
What South Africa didn’t account for, like most of us is the Joe Root factor. Yorkshireman Root ever since he blessed us with his presence in the international arena has been nothing short of a revelation.
Time and again in the past couple of years Yorkshire’s Joe Root has answered the call when his country has come calling in the need of help. This match was becoming one of those times where he was needed.
With 44 runs needed and five wickets left, this match still could have gone either way – but Joe stayed calm almost to the end. The 24-year old Root who was voted as the world’s best batsmen at a certain stage of last year showed his class with a very classy 83.
Sadly the England vice-captain couldn’t see the job through as he was dismissed with 10 still needed. England though were on the brink though however of pulling off a miraculous win. Just to keep their fans’ heart rate pumping that bit higher, England lost two wickets when the scores were tied.
Moeen Ali eventually though however sealed the win by pinching a single and helping England successfully chase down the second highest score in world T20 history. This wouldn’t have been the start that South Africa would have been looking for, the Proteas’ next game is against minnows Afghanistan on Sunday.