T20 World Cup: Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada help tame fighting USA in Super 8 | Crickit
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T20 World Cup: Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada help tame fighting USA in Super 8

Jun 20, 2024 12:22 AM IST

The opener’s 74 and the fast bowler’s three strikes help the Proteas beat the impressive USA by 18 runs in Super 8 Group 2

No one was expecting an Associate Member nation to be in the Super 8s. As per the pre-decided seedings, Pakistan, and not United States of America, should have been playing Wednesday’s game against South Africa at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua.

South Africa's captain Aiden Markram, left, and Quinton de Kock celebrate the partnership of 100 runs(PTI)
South Africa's captain Aiden Markram, left, and Quinton de Kock celebrate the partnership of 100 runs(PTI)

USA, who upset Pakistan in the group stage, put up another impressive show to prove that in T20s they were not in the top eight by fluke.

The co-hosts stretched the formidable South Africa in both bowling and batting before going down by 18 runs. Asked to bat first, SA batters targetted the weak links in the USA bowling line-up, helping themselves to a formidable total of 194/4. In their chase, opener Andries Gous scored a heroic 80* (47b; 5x4, 5x4) to give the Proteas a scare before USA finish on 176/6. He got splendid support from Harmeet Singh (38, 22b) in a 91-run (43 balls) partnership for the sixth wicket.

Struggling at 103/5 after 14 overs with 92 needed off 36 balls, opener Gous and Harmeet brought the game to life by taking 19 and 13 runs off the 15th and 16th overs. Gous targetted Anrich Nortje for two sixes and a four to get USA to 122/5 after 15 overs, before Harmeet deposited Tabraiz Shamsi into the midwicket stands for six.

With 50 needed off 18 balls, Gous and Harmeet hit three sixes off Shami to bring the equation down to a gettable 28 off 12 balls. But Rabada removed Harmeet off the first ball of the 19th over to end USA’s fight.

Earlier, led by superb displays from pacer Saurabh Netravalkar and left-arm spinner Harmeet, USA’s main bowlers put up a spirited show. Ali Khan (4-0-45-0) and Nosthush Kenjige (3-0-29-0), without being spectacular, provided support to Netravalkar and Harmeet. However, USA missed a good fifth bowler. Between Jasdeep Singh (2-0-36-0), Steven Taylor (2-0-21-0) and Corey Anderson (1-0-17-0), they went for 74 runs in five overs.

This has been a tough tournament for South Africa’s batters. In the group stage, they lost 11 wickets while averaging a mere 9.63 in the powerplay. None of their top-order batters have a strike rate of 100 in the first six overs. It was mainly because South Africa played three of their four games in New York, where batting conditions were far from ideal.

Everyone knows what Quinton de Kock, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen and Tristan Stubbs are capable of in ideal batting conditions. On a better batting surface at North Sound, the trio flexed its muscles.

Opener de Kock set the tone with a 74 (40b; 7x4, 5x6), sharing a partnership of 110 (60 balls) with No.3 Markaram (46 off 32b). Klaasen (36* off 22b) and Stubbs (20* off 16b) added 53 off 30 balls to provide the push in the last five overs.

De Kock was the key for SA. From 17/1 after three overs, he went on a six-hitting spree to lift SA to 64/1 in 6 overs, racing to 41 off 18 balls. The dynamic southpaw completed his 50 off 26 balls and brought up the team’s 100 in the 10th over with Markaram.

During the game, there were plenty of examples that showed the gulf between USA and the seasoned SA players. But, USA’s Netravalkar and Harmeet stood out. The India imports showed no stage fear and proved more than equal to their rivals. Producing highly impressive spells, they shared two wickets each. Harmeet struck off successive balls in his last over to finish with 4-0-24-2 while Netravalkar (2/21) responded admirably in various stages of the game.

Most impressive was how he finished the 19th over with four dot balls to Stubbs. He gave away just six runs out, of which was a four off a thick edge close to the wicket-keeper.

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