England show exit route to South Africa
by Jinu Sabastian

Ground:Centurion Park, Centurion
Scorecard:South Africa v England
Player:OA Shah, PD Collingwood, GC Smith
Event:ICC Champions Trophy 2009/10

DateLine: 27th September 2009


South Africa's jinx in major ICC tournaments continued as England knocked South Africa out off the ICC Champions Trophy 2009 to reach the semi-finals. Graeme Smith played a majestic knock and for a moment it seemed that he would help South Africa cross the victory line but he did not find adequate support from the rest off his team-mates and South Africa fell short by 22 runs.


Strauss's luck with the toss continued as after winning his eighth toss in nine matches he elected to bat first. England had to replace wicket-keeper Matt Prior who was down with illness and Morgan took duty of donning the keeping duties. Strauss shook off his disappointment of losing his best keeper batsman Prior and signaled his intentions by straight-driving Steyn for a glorious boundary straight past the bowler and Denly joined the party by flicking a wayward Parnell to midwicket boundary. Both the batsmen not only found the boundaries but also got the ones and twos to keep the scoreboard moving. Smith had to turn to Kallis and he replaced the a leaking Parnell and soon there was some control over the run-rate. It was evident that Kallis was suffering from some sort off side strain but he still managed to dislodge Denly who simply lapped a rank long hop from the bowler straight to Duminy at deep square-leg. The first wicket had added 48 in exactly 10 overs.


The next man Owais Shah after regaining some confidence in the match against Sri Lanka was on the attack from early in the innings when he launched into the square-leg stand for a massive six. Strauss's innings was terminated when an airborne Mark Boucher plucked an outside edge off Parnell to put the match in balance. If another wicket had fallen the South African team would have stormed right back into the match. But Shah and Collingwood comprehending the situation well put their heads down to consolidate on a strong start. Smith introduced his spinners and straight-away they were able to tie the batsmen in knots from the word go. After getting used to the spin and bounce off the spinners both the batsmen began to milk the spinners with excellently. It was a period of consolidation and both the batsmen looked rarely in trouble.


As overs went by both the batsmen began to open up and the signs off aggression came visible when Collingwood deposited van der Merwe into the deep midwicket stand. Shah meanwhile used the little dabs and nudges to get his score moving and then reminded everybody that he too can unfurl some big shots when he slog-swept Duminy for a maximum which brought up the 100 run mark. Shah continued to play big shots and it was evident that his confidence was back. Collingwood and Shah began to unfurl their aggressive shots from their repository and Smith looked concerned. Shah continued with his big hitting ways as he began to toy with the South African bowlers at will. No bowler seemed to make any sort off impression as he went berserk once he crossed the fifty run mark. Not even Smith's strike bowler Steyn was spared as he too found himself flying beyond the boundaries as Shah was getting some serious momentum for himself. But Steyn came back superbly when he denied Collingwood from giving the strike over to Shah after the drinks break and it was just what the South Africa team needed to break his concentration. With the knowledge that he could get to his second ODI century Shah tried to turn Botha around the corner but the ball lobbed off his pads which was gleefully accepted by Boucher thus breaking a 163 run association between the two. In walked Morgan fresh from his match-winning knock against Sri Lanka and he just continued from where he had left in the last game. He signaled his intentions when he sashayed down the track and dumped Botha over long-on for a huge six. Collingwood was done in by a slower one from Parnell but Morgan toyed with the South African bowlers. England called for the Powerplay in the 42nd over, and the English innings during this time revolved around Morgan who was cracking fours and sixes at will, in a show off breath-taking assault that left South African team and their fans gasping for breath. The last few overs witnessed a clutch off wickets falling. Luke Wright was run out for 8 when a Morgan drive deflected off Parnell's boot and into the stumps, Ravi Bopara send swirling a leading edge towards Morkel while Stuart Broad was yorked by Parnell for a duck. With five balls left in the innings, Morgan send Steyn straight to Graeme Smith at extra cover.


Needing 324 to win, Gibbs was off like a runaway train, training his sights especially on Onions as he peeled him off with a calculated assault. Knowing fully that Onions was new to the international scene Gibbs put the bowler under pressure by taking on the bowler. Smith meanwhile got into his stride by taking his own time by getting the initial singles. James Anderson was frugal while Onions under attack from Gibbs withered as he bowled too short or too full. After six overs the South Africa score read 37 for no loss with Onions in his three overs conceding 24 runs to ease the pressure built up by an accurate Anderson. Gibbs looked good for more when he mistimed a pull off Anderson straight to Wright at mid-on and the delight on the faces in the English camp told how much they valued his wicket. Kallis essayed glorious cover-drive off Broad but then he fell when he pulled a short one from Broad straight to the throat of Denly at deep square-leg. Ab de Villiers joined his captain Smith in the middle and the two tried to calm the frayed nerves off the South African camp.


At 73 for 2 in the 15th over, Wright could have had de Villiers Collingwood at backward point spilled a relatively simple chance who was on 3 at the time. Graeme Swann was swept away for consecutive fours that brought up a run-a-ball half-century, but on 59 he survived a let-off when Eoin Morgan, the stand-in wicketkeeper, failed to gather a delivery that kept low. de Villiers began to open up and it seemed that the English team will look back at the drop catch by Collingwood and rue the let-off. Just when it seemed that de Villiers in the company off his skipper will take South Africa to safety Collingwood struck. de Villiers got a long hop from Collingwood who was accurate till then which should have been put away but instead he picked up Denly at deep-midwicket. The pair had added 78 in 14 overs and the wicket off de Villiers swung the pendulum back into England's favour. England could have had Smith again when he lobbed a ball straight to Owais Shah at long-on but unfortunately for England Shah put down a sitter and Strauss's withering look at the offender told many unspoken words.


The match seemed fast slipping from the hands off England and it was evident that Smith held key to the match who was batting like a dream. Duminy and Smith added 61 in 11.1 overs and it seemed the duo would take care off South Africa's chase but Swann had other ideas. Smith reached a blistering century off just 104 balls with 10 hits to the fence and slowly the momentum began to flow in South Africa's favour. Swann produced a brilliant 37th over in the South African innings which included just one run and then the wicket off Duminy. Boucher was cleaned up by one that kept low from Anderson. Too much was expected off big-hitting Morkel but a run-out curtailed his innings and Broad removed Botha to apply more pressure on the Smith. van der Merwe went for a duck and once Smith was holed out to mid-on the interest remained as to whether the South African team would score 313 to stay alive in the tournament but it was big an ask for the tail.


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