Sunday, 6 March 2011

Cricket World Cup 2011: England v South Africa report

England (171 all out) beat South Africa (165 all out) by six runs in World Cup Group B match in Chennai. If England ever manage to work out how to get all their moving parts pulling in the same direction then they could suddenly become an unstoppable force at this World Cup.
For three matches the batsmen had been in easy mood rattling along with scores either in excess of 300 or not far short while the bowlers were being hammered by everyone from Sachin Tendulkar to Kevin O’Brien.
But on Sunday that form reversed as the bowlers saved the batsman to somehow leave England travelling to Bangladesh knowing that one more victory will seal a quarter-final place with a group game to spare.
South Africa were stunned and instead of reinforcing their standing as the tournament’s best side, Graeme Smith was forced to fend off familiar questions about his team choking with victory in sight.
At 124 for three with only 48 required from an ocean of overs, South Africa were coasting to a third consecutive win. But the match turned when James Anderson discovered a decent length delivery which deceived AB De Villiers into shouldering arms.
Hardly anyone noticed the bails lying on the floor, but what happened next grabbed everyone’s attention. It was the beginning of a devastating spell of four for three in 30 balls as South Africa’s middle order suddenly looked feeble.
Francois du Plessis was run out by Ian Bell at short leg as England rediscovered their touch in the field, before JP Duminy’s off stump was ripped out of the ground. It was not a great stroke from Duminy, he played around a full delivery, and one that showed a lack of match awareness.
Anderson was finding reverse swing but the ball was due to be changed at the end of the over, snuffing out the movement he thrives on.
All of a sudden England were in with a chance and wickets fell in clusters, a familiar facet of their Test cricket in Australia.
The match suddenly veered into Test mode as Andrew Strauss attacked. He has been criticised for his defensive tactics in the past but it is in low-scoring matches that captains can really make a difference in one-day cricket and on Sunday he acted.
Sensing South African wobbliness Strauss moved in, crowding the bat with fielders as Graeme Swann found prodigious turn. A silly point, gully and slip showed which team was in control and Robin Peterson was found wanting. Somehow he saw off Swann, but the pressure told and he drove loosely at a Mike Yardy slider with Matt Prior taking the edge.
South African resolve was stiffened by Morne van Wyk and Dale Steyn’s 33-run stand for the eighth wicket as Strauss reluctantly spent Swann’s final over searching for a breakthrough that would not arrive.
Once Swann ended his 10 overs, with only the early wicket of Smith as reward, Strauss turned to Tim Bresnan and his back of a length delivery hurried van Wyk into cutting onto his stumps.
With eight runs required from three overs South Africa only had to hold their nerve, working in singles, but Stuart Broad has spent a long time this winter watching others bask in glory and finally had his moment.
The first ball of his spell was full and straight and Steyn fell lbw, a decision upheld on appeal, before three balls later Morne Morkel nicked a big drive and the match was over.
England’s bowlers had begged for a different surface from the one that made life hard in Bangalore and their hopes were answered. This pitch was dry and crumbly but the skill of being successful in a vast country like India is learning how to adapt, a talent England’s batsmen still need to learn.
For the second successive innings Strauss was the master of his own demise.
Looking to be positive as South Africa opened with Peterson’s left-arm spin, a tactic becoming the norm in this tournament, Strauss played a stroke more suited to Bangalore’s predictable bounce, using his feet to go down the pitch but only succeeded in hitting a catch to deep midwicket.
Three balls later and Kevin Pietersen lunged forward but the ball turned and caught his outside edge to leave England two down in the first over. When Peterson deceived Ian Bell in the flight four overs later England were 15 for three and relying on Ravi Bopara, recalled in place of Paul Collingwood, and Jonathan Trott to add some solidity.
Trott was in his element chugging along and aiming to bat through the innings. A second consecutive half century was achieved but his former Warwickshire colleague, the Pakistan born leg-spinner Imran Tahir, beat him with dip and turn to take the first of four wickets.
Bopara smote a six off Duminy and showed he can apply his mind when necessary with a 98-ball 60 before Morkel nipped one off the seam. Tahir’s well disguised googly left England what felt like 30 runs short of a competitive total but predicting England is a foolish habit in this World Cup.

No comments: