COLOMBO – South Africa narrowly failed to clinch a consolation victory in their final match of the ICC World T20 when they lost to India by a single run in a pulsating Super Eight contest at the Premadasa Stadium on Tuesday night.
Australia’s comprehensive defeat earlier in the day had already condemned South Africa to an early flight home and India, too, had been eliminated on net run rate when South Africa passed 121 in pursuit of 153 for victory.
AB de Villiers put India in to bat with Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team needing to win by 31 runs or more in order to eliminate Pakistan from the semi-finals and they did everything in their power to score quickly and were indebted to Suresh Raina for a fine 45 from 34 deliveries.
It was yet another disciplined Proteas’ bowling performance which kept India to a ‘par’ score of 152-6 and, although the top order again failed, Faf Du Plessis led a fine fight back with the most aggressive innings of the tournament for South Africa.
Recalled to the starting XI in place of Richard Levi, the right handed Titans stalwart bristled with intent from the first ball and reached 50 from just 29 deliveries. Eventually the heat and fatigue took its toll and he was caught on the long-off boundary for 65 from 38 balls with six fours a six.
It was touch and go until the final over with Farhaan Behardien (13), Robin Peterson (10) and Johan Botha (8) all hitting boundaries to keep the Proteas within touching distance.
Albie Morkel then made South Africa favourites for the first time when he launched the first ball of the final over from Laxmi Balaji over the midwicket boundary for six with 14 runs required. But he dragged the next delivery on to his stumps and was replaced at the wicket by last man, brother Morne.
A swing and a miss at his first ball left South Africa needing eight from the final three balls and the game swung back in the batting side’s favour when Morne heaved a slower ball over square leg for another six. Two runs from the final two balls were required with the last pair at the crease. But it was not to be as Balaji found the perfect yorker to flick off-stump.
Sri Lanka will now play Pakistan in the first semi-final on Thursday with Australia taking on the West Indies on Friday. The final will be played on Sunday. All three matches will be at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.