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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

South Africa peak to defeat feeble England

South Africa crushed England by 9 wicketsat Barbados with 30.2 overs to spare and thereby secured themselves a place in the semi-finals. Both the manner and the margin of victory were significant and will boost South Africa's confidence. The England team will soon be going home with their tails between their legs, which they didn't have to do after their last gasp CB series victory in Australia.

The England batting was characteristically deficient: early wickets, a modest and staid revival to 4/111 (but in the 33rd over) by Andrew Strauss (46) and Paul Collingwood (30). The rest, except for Ravi Bopara (27 no), buckled under the pressure applied by Andrew Hall (10-2-18-5) and Andre Nel (10-3-35-3).

154 was not a tough target, and the South Africans sensed it. They turned the chase into a Twenty/20 match. Graham Smith's bat was much much productive than his mouth has been at times during the tournament as he charged to 89 no/58b, and led his team to a 9 wicket win in 19.2 overs. The England bowling? Choose your adjectives: appalling, weak, pathetic, third rate...

If you want to read more see Cricinfo's match coverage (follow link above), which includes another good statistical analysis by S Rajesh and H R Gopalkrishna. The Scorecard is here.

Looking forward

With only four more Super eight games to be played it looks as if the semi-finals will be played between Australia and South Africa, and New Zealand and Sri Lanka. These are unquestionably the most deserving teams in the tournament, even though each of them except Australia has temporarily fallen from grace.

One big question is whether South Africa can maintain their momentum. I'd be surprised if Hall and Nel could reproduce anything like their form in this game against Australia, but...even something less might be sufficient to grab some early wickets and expose the middle order who haven't had much time at the wicket. Smith and some of his aggressive teammates might be able to take a lot of runs off the fifth Australian bowler (whether Clarke/Symonds or Watson). Enough speculation for now.

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