‘KG’ player of the match as SA boost semi-final chances with crushing win over Bangladesh
The Proteas consolidated a top two position in Group 1 and enhanced their chances of advancing to the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup after they steamrolled a hapless Bangladesh to win by six wickets with 39 balls remaining in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
On a hot and humid day, the teams were offered a fresh pitch at the Zayed Cricket Stadium, which had the look and touch of green and was expected to aid the pace-heavy SA attack.
SA captain Temba Bavuma must have thought he was on the Highveld in Johannesburg when he saw a bit of grass on the surface and simply had no choice but to field first after winning the toss.
Bavuma unleashed his speed merchants Kagiso Rabada, who took three wickets for 20 runs in four overs, and Anrich Nortje, who also grabbed three wickets and conceded just eight runs in the 20 balls he bowled as the Proteas bulldozed Bangladesh with pace and bounce.
Although Bangladesh started relatively well, surviving the opening three overs without losing a wicket as the ball swung around, they were rocked by Rabada’s three wickets in three overs between the third and sixth overs to leave the subcontinent nation shell-shocked after the conclusion of the power-play overs.
Nortje and Pretorius got in on the act and struck in the seventh and eight overs before Shamsi put the final nail in Bangladesh's coffin as the Proteas blew away their opponents for 84 in 18.2 overs.
In reply, the Proteas' chase got off to a wobbling start with opener Reeza Hendricks falling to Taskin Ahmed in the first over.
Chasing a low total, there were concerned faces in the SA dugout after Quinton de Kock [16 runs off 15 balls] and Aiden Markram [0 off four balls] failed to kickstart the Proteas' chase.
It was a wobbling start to their chase and teams who lost three wickets in the power-play overs while chasing have found the going tough in this World Cup.
But captain Bavuma [31 runs off 28 balls] and his Lions teammate Rassie van der Dussen quickly pulled it back with an assured partnership of 47 runs from 43 balls.
When Van der Dussen was dismissed for 22 off 27 balls, the Proteas had already cut the victory target down to size and Bavuma had David Miller at the other end, who scored five runs from the two balls he faced.
The victory is a massive boost for the Proteas' chances of qualifying to the semi-final stages.
The Proteas remain second on six points in Group 1, two points behind rampant leaders England, who they meet in their final group match on Saturday.
The picture of whether the Proteas will advance to the semis will be much clearer on Thursday when a third-placed team take on already eliminated Bangladesh on Thursday.
But all SA have to do is beat unbeaten England on Saturday to advance, regardless of the other results in their group.
Rabada, who moved to 43 wickets in 38 T20 internationals for SA, was voted player of the match.
Rabada said the wicket favoured the seamers and he was glad the dice rolled for him today.
“Every time we have the opportunity to practice, we try and implement what could possibly work for us,” said the 26-year-old.
“We always train hard, and today it paid off. It's nice to see the ball swing, especially in T20 cricket, but it wasn't a surprise, having seen that happen in the IPL games here.
“There's a bit of bounce here, but it's a bit two-paced, some balls skid through, but it's probably the quickest wicket here in the United Arab Emirates.”