Proteas through, England crash out

England

South Africa extended their winning streak to three tightly-scraped victories in a row as they beat England by only three runs in their final group game in Chittagong.

South Africa extended their winning streak to three tightly-scraped victories in a row as they beat England by only three runs in their final group game in Chittagong.

In doing so they knocked England out of the tournament and booked themselves a place in the second semi-final, on Friday in Dhaka. England fell painfully short of a South Africa's mammoth 196 for five (20ovs).

Man of the Match AB de Villiers (69 off 28 balls) was the hero of the day and was promoted to number three to take the baton from Hashim Amla (56 off 37 balls) after a lovely platform of 90 runs in 10.4 overs had been built – and he showed no mercy as he went about his business of pelting the ball around at a strike rate of 250 runs per 100 balls.

De Villiers was acting captain for the match as Faf du Plessis had been suspended for one game for a slow over-rate and boy did he show how he intended for his side to make it through to the next stage as he took his side to a daunting target.

De Villiers took a particular fancy to the bowling of ex-compatriot Jade Derbach (3 ovs, 0-44), striking 26 runs in the 18th over alone. The batsman played some extraordinary cricket shots as he hammered nine fours and three sixes. England's bowlers struggled to control a wet ball as a result of the dew that once again fell across the ground early in the game but conditions were similar for both sides.

England got their chase off to an on-track start as they managed 61 for one inside the six-over Powerplay. They continued to keep in touch with the asking rate but wickets simply fell too often to get on top of it. England's star of their last big chase, Alex Hales (38 off 22 balls), had survived being caught off Albie Morkel (2 ovs. 0-19) when umpire Rod Tucker erroneously called a no-ball – but the Proteas' anguish at the decision ended when Hales was caught a few overs later by David Miller off Wayne Parnell (4 ovs, 3-31).

Every England batsman got a start and Jos Buttler (32 off 24 balls) and Ravi Bopara (31 off 18 balls) helped take England close but not close enough. Again Imran Tahir (4 ovs, 2-27) was South Africa's most economical bowler as he took wickets and kept putting the ball in challenging areas, despite it being wet from dew.

England needed an unlikely 22 runs off the final with six wickets in hand and Dale Steyn (0-33) removed a set Bopara with the first ball of it. Two singles followed and Tim Bresnan's 17 off four deliveries was not enough to take them over the line, despite the last three balls going for six, four and six.

Albie Morkel sustained an injury to his bowling finger and it is not clear whether he will be ready for the next game but South Africa have an unprecedented five days to prepare for their semi-final.

After the match, Stuart Broad said" "It was disappointing to lose by so few runs. We felt it was gettable with the wet ball and the short boundary. We didn't particularly field well and that knock from AB de Villiers was as good as you get."

Hi counterpart, de Villiers addede: "That's T20 cricket – it's always going to be close but we are just delighted with the win. The past doesn't matter now, it's important we peak at the right time and keep up the momentum."

The tournament is wide open and South Africa will most likely face India in their semi-final, two days before next Sunday's final in Dhaka.

<b>Nick Sadleir in Chittagong</b>

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