BSS
  21 Jun 2024, 09:22

England eager to avoid more South Africa strife at T20 World Cup

GROS-ISLET, Saint Lucia, June 21, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - England will hope a change of format leads to a change of result when they look to take a giant stride towards the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup against South Africa on Friday following a thumping loss the last time they played the Proteas.

That Mumbai encounter, seven months ago, was perhaps the lowest point of England's woeful defence of their 50-over World Cup title.

Following captain Jos Buttler's extraordinary decision to field first in oppressive heat, England conceded their largest one-day international total of 399 and suffered a colossal 229-run defeat -- their biggest reverse by runs in the history of the format.

That was one of six losses in nine games for England as they failed to reach the knockout stage in India.

But it appears Buttler's men are making a better defence of their T20 World Cup crown, with England overpowering co-hosts the West Indies by eight wickets in St. Lucia on Wednesday.

In chasing down a target of 181 with 15 balls to spare, England emerged with a superior net run-rate to that managed by South Africa in an unexpectedly tense 18-run win over the United States.

Another win for England in St. Lucia against the Proteas would all but guarantee a semi-final place.

Several of the players that featured for both England and South Africa in India will be involved again on Friday.

But England opener Phil Salt, who made a blistering unbeaten 87 against the West Indies, and in-form fast bowler Jofra Archer had no part in that dire defeat in October.

This tournament has marked Archer's return to international duty after a lengthy injury absence, with the Barbados-born quick in the air when England were being walloped at the Wankhede Stadium.

"Honestly, I didn't get to watch that one as I was heading back to the UK. I know it wasn't a great tournament for the boys but we have put it past us," Archer told a pre-match press conference on Thursday.

"We've just won what is probably going to be one of the toughest games of the tournament...It's a tough group and South Africa is the same challenge as any other team, one to six is packed with batters, so it doesn't really change.

"We just need to come up with another plan that works."
- 'Nail it' -

Archer certainly had one of those while bowling a remarkable 16th over to West Indies' dangerman Nicholas Pooran, the leading run-scorer in the tournament.

He did not concede a run off five of his six balls and also dismissed Pooran.

By contrast, Salt hammered Romario Shepherd for 30 in the same over of England's innings.

"It was everything that we talked about in the bowling meetings, just one of the times you nail it," said Archer. "I'm really glad that over was probably the turning point."

England now face another big-hitter in Heinrich Klaasen, whose brutal hundred was the cornerstone of South Africa's victory in Mumbai.

"We're looking forward to finding our swings again and hopefully we can cash in against England," said Klaasen.

"But they're extremely dangerous side. They've got a lot of match-winners so we need to be aware of that and play our big moments better than they do.

"Hopefully we can continue our trend of playing good cricket under pressure and it will be fantastic if we can go two out of two and close a semi-final spot for ourselves."

 

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