Player of the Match
Player of the Match

South Africa knock West Indies out to enter semi-final with nervy win

Marco Jansen hits the winning six AFP/Getty Images

South Africa 124 for 7 (Stubbs 29, Klaasen 22, Jansen 21*, Chase 3-12) beat West Indies 135 for 8 (Chase 52, Mayers 35, Shamsi 3-27) by three wickets via DLS method

Now, they've (almost) done it all. After an undefeated streak of six matches, five of them far too close for comfort, South Africa have survived a rain-reduced match and successfully chased a tricky target to book the spot in the semi-final of the men's T20 World Cup 2024. They knocked co-hosts West Indies out in the process and have topped their Super Eight group, which means they are also likely to avoid India in the final four. We'll say it again: is this their time?

All the evidence points to a change of fortunes for a team that has so long coveted an ICC trophy and equally long, been denied. South Africa are now winning games they should be losing, scrapping like their rugby counterparts, the Springboks - who won the quarterfinals, semifinals and final, each by one point last year - and finding ways to overcome pressure. There's a new-found tenacity to them and it's seen them get to a T20 World Cup knockout for the first time in a decade.

Incidentally, when they got to the final four in the 2014 tournament, Aiden Markram had just led the Under-19 team to the World Cup. Now, he finds himself captaining the senior side and he is doing differently and to great success. Markram took the new ball in this match, and bowled himself for a full quota of four overs. He decided to rely on a non-traditional strength: spin. South Africa had never bowled this many overs of spin in a T20 World Cup match (and only bowled more twice before against Sri Lanka in 2021) and the change of tack worked a charm. Between them, South Africa's spinners took 5 for 79 in 12 overs.

They were largely responsible for keeping West Indies quiet and for several of the 57 dot balls West Indies faced in their innings - the equivalent of 9.3 overs - and the most at this T20 World Cup. Only an 81-run stand between Kyle Mayers and Roston Chase kept West Indies in the game, and they were the only two batters to get an individual score of more than 15.

And once the tears have dried, West Indies will look to their batting as the major reason they were unable to advance. Their bowlers worked with what they had and had South Africa 15 for 2 in two overs, before the rain came down. They kept at and removed all the recognised batters. Chase's 3 for 12 and Joseph's 2 for 25 meant South Africa were always on tenterhooks but at seven down, Kagiso Rabada and Marco Jansen took it home.

Markram gets funky but fielding gets messy

An eventful first 10 overs saw South Africa drop four catches and Markram become just the second South Africa spinner to bowl four successive overs after opening the bowling in a men's T20I, and that was with two specialist spinners in the XI. Markram shared the new ball with Jansen, and got a wicket with his first ball, as South Africa won the early exchanges with West Indies 5 for 2 early on.

They should have had a third in Jansen's next over, when Chase, on 12, swiped across the line and hit it straight up. Anrich Nortje had all the time in the world and got under it but could not hold on. Chase added eight more runs and then slog swept Keshav Maharaj to deep midwicket where David Miller could not contend with the aerial ball and the wind and let a difficult chance slip.

Then, Maharaj was at square leg when Mayers, on 13, swept to him and he put it down. But the worst of the lot, from a visual perspective, was when Mayers hit Markram down the ground, Rabada and Jansen converged on the ball and didn't call and collided into each other. Jansen had to leave the field but returned and Markram finished with 1 for 28 from his four overs.

Missing… KG Rabada

The success of South Africa's spinners meant Markram had no use of Rabada until the 18th over, making it the latest he has ever bowled in this format. Rabada had played 62 T20Is before this one and had bowled in the first four overs in 61 previous instances. The latest he has bowled before was in the fifth over - also against West Indies - in 2021. He has once before been introduced after the halfway stage, in the 11th over in IPL 2021.

So this was different but still, he had an almost immediate impact. Rabada had seen enough to know pace off was the best option and his first delivery, to Akeal Hosein, could only be dabbed to short third. Hosein and Andre Russell ran but Anrich Nortje picked up and threw quicker and Russell was run-out. Later in the over, Hosein hit a cutter straight back to Rabada, who took a simple catch. His first over cost only one run and held West Indies back from a late surge. He closed out with an over worth 11 runs to keep West Indies to 135.

It's South Africa in a virtual World Cup knockout - did you need more drama?

Yes, yes, you did. And it delivered. Quinton de Kock took 12 runs off the opening over to get the chase underway but then Russell got hold of the new ball. He strangled Reeza Hendricks down the leg side with his first ball - though the decision needed to be reviewed and reversed after Snicko confirmed the edge - and the had de Kock well caught by Sherfane Rutherford at deep backward square. But that was not where the early tension ended. At the end of that over, the heavens opened and an almighty shower came down, bringing with it memories of… 1992, 2003, 2015 and many other rain-affected matches that South Africans would prefer to forget. The delay lasted 75 minutes and three overs were lost, reducing the target to 123.

Klaasen puts South Africa in front

We all know T20 matches can change in an over but in a rain-reduced match, that is even more amplified. Heinrich Klaasen provided the game-changing passage of play when he took on Gudakesh Motie and broke the back of the chase to put South Africa on course for victory. Klaasen hit Motie's first ball into the stands and the last three for successive fours, albeit risky. He stayed on the back foot and hit Motie aerially towards Chase, who could not reach the chance despite a full-stretched dive at backward point, then glanced him past short fine and edged it past Nicholas Pooran to leave South Africa needing 53 runs off 10 overs and clear the path to the semi-finals.

South Africa 2nd innings Partnerships

1st12RR HendricksQ de Kock
2nd3Q de KockAK Markram
3rd27T StubbsAK Markram
4th35H KlaasenT Stubbs
5th16DA MillerT Stubbs
6th7T StubbsM Jansen
7th10KA MaharajM Jansen
8th14K RabadaM Jansen

ICC Men's T20 World Cup

Super Eights, Group 1
Super Eights, Group 2
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