De Kock and Rabada provide cutting edge as SA beat USA

South Africa

South Africa 194 for 4 (de Kock 74, Netravalkar 2-21, Harmeet 2-24) beat United States of America 176 for 6 (Gous 80*, Rabada 3-18) by 18 runs

Another game, another close one for South Africa and they seem to be making a habit of sneaking over the line at the T20 World Cup 2024. This time, they were pushed by USA, who gave an excellent account of themselves in their first Super Eight match.
On a batter-friendly pitch, USA kept South Africa to under 200 from 126 for 1 in the 13th over. Quinton de Kock‘s first half-century of the tournament set South Africa up, before Saurabh Netravalkar and Harmeet Singh took 3 for 15 between them, but the rest of the attack could not provide enough support. Heinrich Klaasen and Tristan Stubbs shared a fifth-wicket partnership of 53 to give South Africa a competitive total to defend.
USA were off to a bright start thanks to Steven Taylor but Kagiso Rabada‘s double strike in the Powerplay kept things even. Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi squeezed USA through the middle but South African born Andries Gous very nearly had a decisive say on proceedings. His unbeaten 80 and his 91 run-stand with Harmeet – the second-highest for the sixth wicket or lower in all T20 World Cups – took USA to within 28 runs of victory, with two overs left. Ultimately, Rabada and Anrich Nortje kept USA at bay and South Africa earned their first Super Eight points.

Only a matter of time for de Kock

It had to be. After scores of 20, 0, 18 and 10, de Kock, in what could be his last international assignment, finally brought out the big guns. He didn’t hit South Africa’s first boundary – that was Reeza Hendricks’ six over cover – and waited until the fourth over before he properly got hold of one but when he did, he did not stop. De Kock pulled Jasdeep Singh through midwicket and then hit him for three successive sixes, all with the wind into the leg side. Jasdeep’s first over cost 28 runs, just 10 fewer than South Africa’s highest Powerplay of the tournament before this match, and set them up for a score of 64 for 1 at the end of the fielding restrictions. De Kock went on to bring up fifty with a six off Corey Anderson, off the 26th ball he faced and to his highest T20 World Cup score: 74.

Catching on point. The bowling? Not always.

USA’s fielding got them back into the game from Anderson’s excellent judgement to take a skier off Hendricks’ top-edge in the third over to Shayan Jahangir judging his distance from the boundary rope well at cow corner to end de Kock’s knock. But it was Ali Khan, who dived forward as he ran in from the deep backward point fence and held on to the grab that could have changed the innings. Aiden Markram was on 46 and hit the last ball of the 15th over in Ali’s direction. He took a stunner to deny South Africa’s captain the chance to push the score above 200. Despite all that, USA still gave away 53 runs in the last five overs and will not be entirely happy with some of their bowling. While Netravalkar and Harmeet’s eight overs cost just 45 runs with four wickets and only four fours, the other five bowlers delivered 12 overs for 148 runs, took no wickets and gave away nine fours and 10 sixes.

Rabada has operated somewhat in the shadows in the group stage of the T20 World Cup and took just four wickets for 84 runs in four matches. With South Africa looking at using two specialist spinners, the debate ahead of this match was which of the three seamers to leave out. On form, both Nortje and Ottneil Baartman made strong cases to stay in the XI ahead of Rabada but the decision was made to leave Baartman out in favour of Rabada’s experience. He repaid that call by removing an aggressive-looking Taylor with his third ball, in the fourth over, and seemed to be ramping up his pace as his spell developed. In his next over, Rabada had Nitish Kumar caught at deep square leg off a length ball on the pads and put South Africa in front with USA 53 for 2 after the Powerplay. He came back to bowl the penultimate over, with USA needing 28 runs off the last 12 balls and broke the partnership that threatened to take the game away. Gous and Harmeet shared a sixth-wicket stand of 91 before Harmeet hit a Rabada full toss to Stubbs at midwicket and departed, along with USA’s hopes.

Gous gets a hold of some of home

Welkom’s Andries Gous is from the same place as Dean Elgar and was part of the group of South Africans who took up offers to play in the Minor League just as the Covid-19 pandemic hit. He made his international debut three months ago and relished the chance to play against the country of his birth and let them have it. He gave himself some time to get his eye in and hit his first boundary off the sixth ball he faced, off Rabada. He sent Marco Jansen for six over long-on and then laid into Nortje, 18 runs off the last four balls of his third over. That included back-to-back sixes; the second was over midwicket and also brought up Gous’ half-century, off 33 balls. But he saved the best for the 18th over, when he hit Shamsi for successive sixes to keep USA in the game. They needed 50 from the last three overs and then just 28 off the last two. Gous finished unbeaten on a career-best 80.

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