Proteas beat England but fail to qualify for T20 World Cup semis
In the end, net run rate proved to be the undoing of the Proteas as they exited yet another major tournament and this time despite their 10 runs victory over England at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Saturday.
South Africa started this match with odds heavily stacked against as Australia enjoyed an insurmountable net run rate after a convincing win over already eliminated West Indies earlier in the day.
England won the toss and put South Africa to bat with Rassie van der Dussen leading from the front with an unbeaten knock of 89 off 60 as the Proteas posted 189/2.
That meant South Africa needed to restrict England to 131 or less to overtake second-placed Australia and advance to the semi-final stage but it proved to be a bridge too far.
England reached 131 and eliminated South Africa from the tournament after 15.2 overs when Liam Livingstone smashed Kagiso Rabada with a humongous maximum out the park.
Chasing 190 to win the match, England were restricted to 179/8 with Kagiso Rabada achieving a rare World Cup hat-trick feat with the successive wickets of Chris Woakes, Eoin Morgan and Chris Jordan in the last over.
The Proteas found themselves in this undesirable situation of an inferior net run rate after Australia thumped the West Indies by eight wickets in the other match of Group 1 in Abu Dhabi with David Warmer scoring an unbeaten 89.
With victory over the West Indies, who were bidding farewell to departing stalwarts Dwayne Bravo and Chris Gayle, Australia increased their net run rate to +1.216 and it proved too much for the Proteas to overhaul.
This was not a smooth tournament for South Africa as they started with defeat by Australia and their camp rocked to its foundations by the furore that was caused by news of Quinton de Kock refusing to take the knee.
They went on to register convincing wins over the West Indies, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and registered their fourth win against this well-oiled England side which proved to be academic.
Failure to make the semi-final will no doubt start debates in South Africa on the fitness of Mark Boucher, who has been on a rollercoaster ride in all formats since he took over in December 2019, to continue coaching the team.
Other arguments will be that the team is settled with the likes of Temba Bavuma, De Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Aiden Markram, Van der Dussen, David Miller, Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi.
Van der Dussen finished as South Africa’s top run scorer at the tournament with 177 runs, Anrich Nortje was the best bowler with nine scalps and the other notable contributor was Markram.
By virtue of finishing in the top eight in this tournament in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Proteas have earned automatic qualification to next years’ T20 World Cup in Australia where Bavuma and his men will have another crack.
For now their focus will be on the summer which starts with the three-match ODI series against the Netherlands between 26 November and 1 December in Centurion.
It will be followed by the main course of the anticipated incoming series of India who will be in country to play three Tests, three ODIs and four T20s between 17 December and 26 January 2022.
In this victory, the best with the bat for the Proteas were Van der Dussen (94), Markram (52) and De Kock (34) while Hendricks only contributed two runs.
Van der Dussen was involved in two significant partnerships of 71 off 52 with De Kock as the laid the foundation and of an unbeaten 103 off 52 with Markram.
For England, spinners Adil Rashid and Moen Ali were the only successful bowlers with the scalps of Hendricks and De Kock respectively.
In the second innings, Rabada claimed three wickets of Morgan, Woakes and Jordan while Shamsi removed Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow and Dwaine Pretorius accounted for Dawid Malan and Liam Livingstone.
Nortje ended his shift with the one wicket of Jos Buttler.
England suffered a huge blow early on when Jason Roy (20) retired hurt and he was followed by the mightily dangerous Jos Buttler (26), Bairstow (1), Ali (37), Malan (33), Livingstone (28), Woakes (7), Morgan (17) and Jordan (0).