Joe Root played one of the finest innings of the T20 World Cup 2016 © Getty Images (File Photo)
Joe Root played one of the finest innings of the T20 World Cup 2016 © Getty Images (File Photo)

Joe Root, helped by Jason Roy, Alex Hales, and Jos Buttler, masterminded what will probably be the chase of the T20 World Cup 2016, as England chased down a mammoth 230 with 2 wickets and 2 balls to spare against South Africa in Match 18 of ICC World T20 2016 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Friday. The first match of the day saw New Zealand defend a paltry 143 against Australia, but that was on a vastly different Dharamsala surface. Here at Mumbai, there were runs to be had by the boatload, and batsmen hungry to cash in. This was the second-highest run-chase in T20I history, behind only West Indies’ 236-run chase, which co-incidentally came against the same opposition: South Africa. With this win England are third in the Group 1 points table. they lost to West Indies by six wickts in their first match. This was South Africa’s first match of the campaign and are just above Afghanistan on net run rate.  Full Cricket Scorecard: South Africa vs England, ICC World T20 2016, Match 18 at Mumbai

South Africa had got their innings off to a rollicking start, but even that paled in comparison to what Roy and Alex Hales did. Kagiso Rabada, one of the most impressive pacers in recent times, was hit for 4 fours in the first over of the chase as England slammed 21 in the first over. That was not the most expensive over in the first six; Dale Steyn bowled the second over of the innings and was hit for 4 fours and 1 six to give 23 off the over. England were 44 for no loss in 2 overs. The chase was very much on. Full Cricket Blog: South Africa vs England, ICC World T20 2016, Match 18 at Mumbai

Kyle Abbott drew first blood when he had Hales LBW for 17 off 7 balls with 4 boundaries; but the over still cost South Africa 12 runs. Rabada came back with a 9-run over and sanity seemed to return to proceedings. Roy kept going, but was caught behind after top-edging an attempted ramp. He fell for a 16-ball 43 loaded with 5 fours and 3 sixes. Ben Stokes, promoted to No. 3, hit 1 four and 1 six but holed out to Chris Morris off Rabada for 15 from 9 balls.

England were now 87 for 3 in the sixth over. There were no boundaries for the next 3 overs. Skipper Eoin Morgan failed to get going and was bowled by JP Duminy for 12 off 15 balls. Joe Root managed to hit a six off the last ball of the 10th over, which took England to 118 for 4, but they had lost the early momentum.

Enter Jos Buttler, and England’s rejuvination began. In Buttler’s company Root flourished. The duo started playing the big shots at regular intervals, both men finding matching each other boundary for boundary. With 44 runs to win from 27 balls Buttler was stumped off Imran Tahir. His 21 had come in 14 balls, but at the other end Root was batting in a league of his own.

The dimunitive Yorkshireman took complete charge after Buttler’s dismissal. He was already past 50, and he showed no signs of stopping after that. Abbott was hit for a four and six in the 16th over, and Morris went for 4 boundaries in the next over (one by Moeen Ali). England now needed a mere 11 off the final 2 overs with 5 wickets in hand.

On came Rabada, whose first 3 overs cost him 40. The first ball was a yorker that Root could not score off. The next was a full toss that was caught brilliantly by David Miller at the midwicket boundary. Moeen hit the next ball for another four and followed up with a single. Chris Jordan hit the first ball he faced to the cover boundary and took a single off the last ball. England needed 1 to win off the last over.

But the drama was not yet done. Jordan hit the first ball of the final over, bowled by Abbott, to the midwicket boundary where Duminy pulled off a phenomenal catch. It was now down to 1 run, 3 wickets, and 5 balls. Ali played the next ball to mid off. Both batsmen ran, then stopped, and repeated it till David Willey was run out. England now needed 1 from 4. The next ball was a dot; 1 run, 2 wickets, 3 balls. Moeen finally managed to take a single off the fourth ball of the final over of the match, and England won a mind-numbing thriller by 2 wickets.

Earlier, Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, and JP Duminy massacred the England bowlers with rampaging half-centuries to guide South Africa to a humongous 229 for 4 in T20 World Cup 2016, Match 18 of Group 1 at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Friday. David Willey started the match with an over that cost only 2 runs, but after that it was all South Africa. Reece Topley was taken for 15 in his first over; Willey went for 20 in his next; Moeen Ali then went for 13; Chris Jordan was blasted for 22; Ben Stokes for 11; Adil Rashid for 13. Moeen struck with the first ball of the eighth over, but by then South Africa had amassed 96 off their first seven overs at a run rate of 13.71. De Kock was the first to get to his landmark but was out soon after, holing out to Alex Hales in the deep off Moeen Ali for 52 off only 24 balls with 7 fours and 3 sixes.

AB de Villiers walked in at No. 3 and looked good, hitting Adil Rashid for back-to-back sixes. He was dismissed going for a third big hit, slicing Rashid to Eoin Morgan on the off side for 16 off 8 balls. South Africa had raced away to 114 for 2 in 9 overs. Amla kept going at the other end, and got to his third half-century in as many T20 innings. However, he too did not last long after, falling LBW to the impressive Moeen for a 31-ball 58 with 7 fours and 4 sixes. Amla had scored 69 not out against England and followed it up with 97 not out against Australia before finally being dismissed against England for 58, giving him 224 runs between dismissals — a T20I record.

The run rate slowed a bit after Amla’s dismissal, but only for a while. Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis went past 1,000 T2oI runs in the course of his knock, but took his time to get set. He was eventually snapped up holing out to Jason Roy off David Willy for a run-a-ball 17. JP Duminy, on the other hand, continued from where the others left off before him, and was joined in the party by David Miller.

The left-handed duo picked up the scoring rate, but they did not quite manage to emulate the destruction Amla and de Kock had caused earlier in the match, but it was enough to take the Proteas past 200. Duminy got to his half-century in the last over of the innings, and Miller cleaned up with a six and a four off the last two balls of the innings. The partnership had yielded 60 runs in less than 5 overs.

Brief scores:

South Africa 229 for 4 in 20 overs (Hashim Amla 58, Quinton de Kock 52, JP Duminy 54*; Moeen Ali 2 for 34) lose to England 230 for 8 in 19.4 overs (Jason Roy 43, Joe Root 83; Kyle Abbott 3 for 41) by 2 wickets with 2 balls remaining.

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(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is an animal lover and comic, film and TV geek. A fast bowler at heart, he loves watching a good, low-scoring game of cricket. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)