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South Africa hands shambolic England its heaviest World Cup defeat

Standard Lesotho Bank launches groundbreaking M11 million cashback rewards for loyal customers footer
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  • South Africa, 399-7, beat England, 170, by 229 runs
  • England’s hopes hang by thread after third defeat in four

Simon Burnton at the Wankhede Stadium

They say the higher you rise, the harder you fall and England’s double world champions have fallen brutally hard. Despite being brought low by two defeats in their first three World Cup games they promised they could yet scale new heights; against South Africa they plumbed fresh depths: the most runs they have conceded and their biggest losing margin.

With a brilliant batting display, South Africa exposed all the frailties of their opponents, physical, mental and technical. England have not yet been definitively eliminated, but after this 229-run defeat it is only a matter of time. The grizzly picture is already clear: their old-timers thought this could be one last hurrah, instead it has been a bridge too far.

Everything England promised before this game was delivered instead by the team wearing green. Despite losing Quinton de Kock in the opening over, South Africa batted with pugnacious excellence, Reeza Hendricks – playing only because Temba Bavuma came down with a stomach bug overnight – and Rassie van der Dussen laying the foundation with half-centuries before Heinrich Klaasen, with a brilliant 67-ball 109, and Marco Jansen (75 off 42) heaved the game way beyond their opponents’ reach in the final 10 overs, in which time they plundered 143 runs.

England were left needing to score 400 and managed 170. They came into this game with six specialist batters, betting that at least a few would come good in a notoriously batting-friendly venue; inside 12 overs they were all gone. South Africa bowled well but sometimes this is a game of the mind and England’s were scrambled. A 33-ball, 73-run partnership between Mark Wood and Gus Atkinson at the end only underlined their teammates’ failings.

England had tried to refresh their side, making three changes to the team that lost to Afghanistan last Sunday, but instead of illustrating the depth of their talent it exposed a dearth. Even Ben Stokes could not rescue them: by the time he picked up his bat England needed a miracle.

The first sense this was not going to be their day came in the seventh over, until when the

y had been ascendent. Reece Topley’s international career has been a case of agony followed by further agony, with injuries that seem to seek him out at the worst possible moments. This one was a tracer missile, Van der Dussen thrashing the ball low and just to his left, the ball crashing into Topley’s index finger as he stuck out a paw.

In that moment the match shifted. Before Topley’s injury South Africa had faced 39 balls and scored 20; in the remainder of the powerplay they scored 39 runs from 21 and the momentum would never switch again.

South Africa’s Heinrich Klaasen celebrates his century against England. Photograph: Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty Images

At this point England seemed to fall apart. Adil Rashid, suffering from a stomach upset, repeatedly left the field and was obviously uncomfortable for much of the time he was on it, while still managing to be by a massive margin his team’s most effective bowler. David Willey went down with cramp, Harry Brook beckoned on a physio. At one point even Spidercam needed running repairs.

Topley reversed the trend by coming back from injury, taking a couple of wickets, but he could not transform his team’s fortunes, and was not fit enough to bat.

Towards the end of South Africa’s innings this genial pastime seemed to have turned into a brutal endurance event, an it was not just England who suffered. During Klaasen’s innings his own body caused him significantly more trouble than any English bowling, his rapid scoring more remarkable because of his very obvious discomfort. As he pushed his side towards inevitable victory he forced himself closer and closer to collapse; in the 47th over the gymnastics required to evade a Mark Wood yorker left him on the ground and in obvious agony.

Klaasen clambered to his feet, brushed himself down, crashed the next ball over long on for six and the one after that to fine leg for four, to bring up his century off 61 balls. It was a brutal and brave innings and at the other end Jansen was watching and learning.

At the point his partner raised his bat he had scored 35 off 32 and was reaching unexplored territory – he had never scored a half-century in international white-ball cricket, and only one in limited-overs cricket of any kind. He scored 39 runs off his next nine balls, long levers swinging through the ball in perfect arcs, including three sixes in Topley’s final over, which went for 26.

On the plus side, he all but guaranteed that the only injury England’s players could possibly sustain in the final overs was a cricked neck. As the ball repeatedly sailed over the boundary it was probably the only period in this increasingly benighted tournament that things for England have really been looking up. – The Guardian

 

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