Morkel, Pollock star for SAAlex Crampton |
With a total of 154 on a pitch where no one was sure what a good score was, South Africa’s bowlers were able to restrict England’s batting line up to 135, giving them their first victory of the Super Eight stage.
Leading from the front, using all his experience, was Shaun Pollock. He sent down for overs for just 17 runs, taking two wickets, and even bowling a wicket maiden. That wicket maiden was the first over of the innings, his victim Luke Wright with a lazy drive to cover. He also took the big wicket of England captain Paul Collingwood for no score, caught at slip trying to run the ball down to third man.
Just two balls before Collingwood’s wicket, Pollock was involved in the somewhat controversial run out of Kevin Pietersen. Batting at three, against the country of his birth, the stage seemed set for a Pietersen special. He made it to 15, before setting off on a single to Makhaya Ntini. A slightly complacent first few yards made the run tighter than it needed to be, and as Pietersen reached to ground his bat, he collided with Pollock, sending his bat in the air, and leaving him short of his ground as Ntini unleashed a direct hit.
Pietersen would have been in without the collision, but was out, and England had to cope for the rest of the innings without their best batsman. After Collingwood’s demise though, Owais Shah and Matt Prior shared a partnership of 55. Both passed 30, and began to look well set, capable of taking England home. Neither were able to go on however, and the time they spent getting themselves in had raised the required rate towards ten an over for a lower order, led by Andrew Flintoff.
Flintoff lofted two boundaries early on, reminiscent of his best, but failed to do any more damage, as the South Africans bowled well to him, varying their length and pace well. Flintoff was hindered by the decision to send in Jeremy Snape ahead of Dimitri Mascharenhas. Snape looked out of his depth, and proved unable to rotate the strike, and eventually fell to a tame drive to cover.
By then, it was far too late. The required run rate was something exorbitant, and there was no way the tail was getting close, even with the six-hitting potential of Mascharenhas. There were not under a huge amount of pressure, but Morne Morkel and Johannes Van Der Wath bowled well at the end of the innings, keeping England 19 runs short of South Africa’s total.
That total, was one that they did not look like reaching for most of the innings. Stuart Broad made a breakthrough with his first ball, a beauty to find the edge of JP Duminy’s bat, Duminy playing as a replacement for Herschelle Gibbs in this game. Graeme Smith and AB De Villiers both struck a few boundaries, but fell in successive overs to Broad and Flintoff respectively, falling foul of over ambition.
At 42-3, Justin Kemp and Mark Boucher rebuilt, but rebuilt slowly, or slowly for Twenty20 at least. They had to ride their luck though, England fielded poorly, and a luckless Jeremy Snape saw Mark Boucher dropped off successive deliveries. After their dismissals, and Shaun Pollock’s without scoring, South Africa sat at 94-6 in the fifteenth over.
That was when Albie Morkel started to get going though. He was also given a reprieve, a skied shot landed in between Paul Collingwood and Owais Shah, both leaving the catch to the other. He quickly took advantage, swinging the next three balls from Chris Schofield for three monstrous sixes, one of them estimated at being the longest hit so far in the tournament.
On the back of Morkel’s 20-ball 43, South Africa reached 154-8, damaging several England bowlers’ previously good figures in the process. Morkel would later follow up his heroics with the bat with the two vital wickets of Shah and Prior.
South Africa 154-8
Albie Morkel 43
Stuart Broad 3-37, Andrew Flintoff 2-23
Owais Shah 36, Matt Prior 32
Albie Morkel 2-12, Shaun Pollock 2-17
South Africa win by 19 runs
Cricket Web Man of the Match : Albie Morkel