Joe Root smashed 83 off 44 to help England chase down 230 as they beat South Africa by two wickets in Mumbai on Friday.
What a game. What a spectacle. What absolutely poor bowling by South Africa. But let’s give credit to England. They batted out of their skins to chase down a total few people would have backed them to get when they walked out to bat.
Despite a frantic, nail-biting final over, they pulled off the second highest run-chase in T20 history and the highest at a T20 World Cup.
It would be easy to look back and say South Africa were 10 runs short of a defendable total, but that wouldn’t take into account their poor bowling display.
No team can bowl 20 wides and expect to get away with it and Faf du Plessis admitted after the game that it played a massive role in the defeat.
England held their nerve, and despite losing two wickets in the final over while needing just one run to win, they got there with a punch from Moeen Ali down the ground to get their campaign back on track.
England needed 11 off 10 when Root was caught superbly by David Miller on the boundary. It didn’t matter, because the damage was done.
If you thought South Africa’s innings got off to a lightning speed start, England were even better, even if they lost more wickets at the start.
Jason Roy (43 off 16) and Alex Hales (17 off 7) got going from the outset, racing to 48 in 2.3 overs. Kagiso Rabada conceded 21 runs from his first over and Dale Steyn followed it up by leaking 23 in his.
Kyle Abbott was guilty of dropping a simple catch at short fine-leg when Hales was on nought. When Abbott trapped him lbw shortly after, England sent in Ben Stokes at No 3 and proceeded to race to 79 in the first five overs and 89 in the powerplay.
Crucially, they stayed ahead of South Africa through most of their innings and that enabled them to keep the pressure on the Proteas throughout their innings.
The bowling was terrible at times and only Imran Tahir managed to keep his economy rate below 10 in his four overs as he took 1-28.
Faf du Plessis resisted the urge to employ his spinners in the powerplay in an effort to stop the runs, but Steyn was off the pace and bowled just two overs, conceding 35 runs. Chris Morris was equally poor and leaked 39 runs in three overs.
Like Du Plessis in the South African innings, Eoin Morgan batted way too slowly in getting 12 from 15 balls, but the batsmen around him never let up.
After being bowled by JP Duminy, Jos Buttler joined Root in the middle and their 75-run partnership ultimately took the game away from South Africa in the middle overs.
England were 170-4 and needed 60 from 36 deliveries as Root reached his fifty off 29 balls and even after he got out England never looked like losing the game.
A breathtaking onslaught from Quinton de Kock (52 off 24) and Hashim Amla (58 off 31) launched South Africa to 229-4.
De Kock was the initial tormenter, equaling AB de Villiers’ record for the fastest T20 fifty by a South African off just 21 balls.
Amla’s fifty came off 25 balls with a six, but Du Plessis batted too slowly and it halted South Africa’s momentum in the middle overs.
His dismissal for 17 off 17 was a blessing in disguise, but not before he became the joint second-fastest player to reach 1 000 T20I runs in just 32 innings.
JP Duminy continued the onslaught in the death overs by smashing 54 off 28 and together with David Miller (28 off 12) they made sure South Africa passed the 200-mark comfortably to set an imposing score for England to chase.