Tue | Jul 23, 2024

South Africa win dramatic final group game

Published:Sunday | June 16, 2024 | 12:12 AM

South Africa skipper Aiden Markram.
South Africa skipper Aiden Markram.

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC):

ROOKIE PACER Ottneil Baartman sent down a terrific final over as South Africa held off persistent Nepal by one run in a dramatic finish to their last Group D game of the ICC Twenty20 World Cup late Friday night.

Held to 115 for seven off their 20 overs on a slow Arnos Vale Stadium pitch, exploited by leg-spinner Kushal Bhurtel (4-19) and off-spinner Dipendra Singh Airee (3-21), South Africa were staring down the barrel of their first defeat with Nepal well placed on 85 for two in the 14th over.

However, leg-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi struck two key blows in a Man-of-the-Match spell of four for 19 from four overs, before the 31-year-old Baartman, in only his fifth T20 International, held his nerve in a dramatic final over with the Nepalese requiring eight runs for a historic win.

“I thought Baartman executed his last two balls really well to keep us in the game, but a funny ending to how it all finished,” said South Africa captain Aiden Markram.

“Sometimes you just become very grateful to get random victories like that.”

Baartman kept Gulsan Jha scoreless from the first two deliveries, but then watched as the 18-year-old left-hander flayed the third ball to the cover boundary.

A couple from the fourth ball left Nepal needing just two runs from the last two balls but Baartman prevailed, Gulsan run out off the final ball after missing a swing at the final delivery and then finding himself well short of his ground at the non-striker’s end attempting a desperate single.

“I didn’t feel anything. I was just there in the moment,” said Nepal skipper Rohit Paudel.

“Everyone was excited – two runs were needed in two balls. T20 is a fast game. The game shifts with two good balls or even a boundary.”

Sent in, South Africa struggled for runs, and it was only opener Reeza Hendricks, with 43 off 49 balls, who got the measure of the pitch.

He struck five fours and a six and posted 44 for the second wicket with Markram (15) before Tristan Stubbs belted an 18-ball unbeaten 27 at number six to help bolster the innings.

In reply, opener Aasif Sheikh struck four fours and a six in 42 off 49 deliveries, putting on 35 for the first wicket with Kushal Bhurtel (13) and a further 50 for the third with Anil Sah (27), before the chase became unstuck.

NEPAL ELIMINATED

South Africa finished their group stage with four wins from as many starts while Nepal have been eliminated with a game remaining.

At press time yesterday, England were sweating on a game between Australia and Scotland, hoping the former can get the business done, even after their rain-affected win over Namibia kept their hopes alive.

Persistent showers almost ruined the chance, but the match started three hours late and was reduced to 11 overs, then 10 overs after another heavy shower.

England were made to bat first and rallied to 122-5.

Namibia, given a rain-adjusted target of 126, managed only 84-3, losing by 41 runs.

England did what they had to, then had to wait a few more hours and hope Scotland lost to Australia in St Lucia to be sure of advancing from Group B.

England had already suffered one washout – their opener against Scotland – and a second washout in four group games would have sent them home.

Because of what was at stake, the umpires waited as long as possible at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium to get play underway.

There was also a washout in the United States, with the India-Canada game in Florida abandoned without a ball bowled.

The outfield at Broward County Stadium was too wet for play, and the match was called off just an hour after its scheduled morning start.

While there was light rain on Saturday morning, the outfield was damp from Friday showers which led to a second straight abandoned game at the venue. The United States-Ireland game on Friday never started. Pakistan and Ireland are scheduled to play at the ground today.