Mumbai, March 19: Star batsman Joe Root smashed a match-winning 83 as a spirited England side chased down South Africa’s massive total of 229 to win a nail-biting contest by two wickets in the Group 1 clash in the World Twenty20 cricket tournament at the Wankhede Stadium here on Friday.
Batting first, the Proteas posted a commendable 229/4 in 20 overs, thanks to half-centuries each from Hashim Amla, Jean-Paul Duminy and Quinton de Kock. In reply, England opener Jason Roy struck a quickfire 43 off 16 which was followed by Root’s 83 off 44 that helped team chase down the total as they posted 230/8 in 19.4 overs.
Chasing a massive target of 230, openers Roy and Alex Hales (17 off 7) got England off to a flying start scoring 44 runs in just two overs. The run feast ended as Sean Abbott got the much needed breakthrough by getting rid of Hales in the third over.
This didn’t stop Roy from playing his shots as the right-handed batsman took on the bowling striking five fours and three sixes before giving his wicket away in the fifth over leaving his team at 71/2.
All-rounder Ben Stokes (15) who was promoted up the batting order, didn’t trouble the opposition much as he along with skipper Eoin Morgan (12) returned back to the pavilion in space of four overs to have England in a bit of trouble at 111/4 in tenth over.
From there, on Root did not allow the required run-rate to climb high as he kept on finding boundaries at regular intervals to bring up his half-century in 29 balls and take team past 150-run mark. Jos Buttler (21) who was giving good support to Root was also dismissed to end the duo’s 75-run partnership for fifth wicket.
Root held on playing sensibly to take team past 200-run mark before giving away his wicket in 19th over. Moeen Ali (12 not out) and Adil Rashid (0 not out) to take team past victory line. Kyle Abbott (3-41) and Kagiso Rabada (2-50) were the pick of the South African bowlers.
Earlier on put into bat, openers Amla (58 off 31) and De Kock (52 off 24) got the Proteas off to a rollicking start, scoring 83 runs in the powerplay. Playing a flurry of shots all round the ground, the left-handed De Kock brought up his half-century in just 21 balls striking seven boundaries and three sixes.
But just when he was looking good to take the game away from the opposition, off-spinner Ali struck in the eighth over to send him packing. Amla-De Kock added 96 runs for the first wicket. Incoming batsman A.B. de Villiers (16) failed to make a big impact this time around as he got went out cheaply to have the Proteas reduced to 114/2 in ninth over.
The right-handed Amla after being dropped by Reece Topley when he was batting at nine off the bowling off Ali, proved to be a bit costly for the Englishmen as he went on to score his fourth T20I fifty off just 25 balls. He struck seven boundaries and three sixes.
Amla and skipper Faf du Plessis (17) were then dismissed in space of four overs but ensured team went past the 150-run mark.
Next up, Duminy (54) and David Miller (28) helped team post a goo total.
Ali (2-34) was the pick of the England bowlers.
Brief scores: South Africa 229/4 in 20 overs (Hashim Amla 58, Jean-Paul Duminy 54 not out, Quinton de Kock 52; Moeen Ali 2-34) vs England 230/8 in 19.4 overs (Joe Root 83, Jason Roy 43; Kyle Abbott 3-41, Kagiso Rabada 2-50) (IANS)