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England vs South Africa at the World Cup


England_South_Africa_World_Cup_ODI_CricketThe 12th edition of the Cricket World Cup is almost upon us, with the first match to be played on May 30 between hosts England and South Africa at The Oval in London. Since their first World Cup appearance in the 1992 edition, the Proteas have had a closely-fought rivalry with England, having won three and lost three out of six matches so far. As we hope for an enthralling start to the tournament, here is a look back at South Africa’s previous World Cup tussles with England.

Stewart leads from the front – League Stage, Melbourne, 1992

England had won each of their first five matches of the tournament, while South Africa too were in contention for a semifinal spot. Captain Kepler Wessels (85) and Andrew Hudson (79) laid the base with an opening stand of 151 after England elected to field, and they were not separated until the 36th over. South Africa’s eventual total read a competitive 236/4. Captain Alec Stewart and Ian Botham had carried England to 62/0 in 12 overs in reply, when rain made an appearance.

The much-debated rain rule revised the target to 226 from 41 overs, and upon resumption, three quick wickets saw the score wobble to 64/3. But Stewart was in his element, as he put on 68 for the fourth wicket with Neil Fairbrother before getting run out for an 88-ball 77. Fairbrother added a further 50 in just six overs with Chris Lewis (33 off 22 balls) for the sixth wicket, and stayed unbeaten on 75 off 83 balls to oversee a three-wicket win for England with a ball to spare.

An extraordinary exit for South Africa – Semifinal, Sydney, 1992

Ten days after their league encounter, England and South Africa locked horns in the second semifinal, with the winner going on to face Pakistan in the summit clash. As it happened, the rain rule made its presence felt again, stealing the limelight in what was otherwise a gripping duel. England were put in to bat this time, but South Africa’s slow over rate meant that the innings, which revolved around Graeme Hick’s 83 from 90 balls, was terminated at 252/6 after 45 overs.

Hudson responded with a well-paced 46, but England kept striking at key stages to deny South Africa control. Though Jonty Rhodes hit a breezy 43, South Africa still needed 47 in 31 balls when he was six out. The equation was brought down to 22 in 13 with four wickets in hand when rain caused a 12-minute interruption. This led to a loss of two overs as per the rule, and the equation was thus adjusted to an improbable 22 off one ball. England duly triumphed by 19 runs.

Insipid England bite the dust – Group Stage, Rawalpindi, 1996

South Africa made it three wins out of three matches at the 1996 World Cup by condemning England to a 78-run defeat. Openers Gary Kirsten (who top-scored with 38) and Steve Palframan built a partnership of 56, which would turn out to be the only half-century stand of the match. The English bowlers, led by seamer Peter Martin (3/33), kept the batsmen to follow in check, producing a tidy display that resulted in South Africa getting bowled out for 230 off the last ball.

However, a shoddy batting effort, coupled with South Africa’s excellent bowling and fielding, put paid to England’s chances of getting close to their target. Shaun Pollock had captain Michael Atherton caught behind for a duck off the fourth ball of the innings, after which England crashed to 62/5. Despite a doughty 46 from Graham Thorpe, the 1992 runners-up folded for just 152 in the 45th over. Rhodes was adjudged Man of the Match for his quick 37 and top-drawer fielding.

Hosts succumb to Protean pacemen – Group Stage, The Oval, 1999

Both teams came into this fixture on the back of two wins from their first two matches. South Africa were provided with an ideal start after being sent in to bat, as Kirsten (45) and Herschelle Gibbs (60) shared in an opening alliance of 111. Mark Ealham broke through by accounting for both the openers in successive overs, while at the other end, Alan Mullally got rid of Jacques Kallis for nought. England kept applying the pressure, and at 168/7, they were calling the shots.

The talismanic Lance Klusener, who had come in at 146/5, handed the momentum back to the Proteas with a Man of the Match-winning 48* in 40 balls that improved the total to 225/7. Kallis dismissed Nasser Hussain and skipper Stewart to reduce the score to 6/2, a woeful start from which England failed to recover. South Africa’s pace attack, with Allan Donald (4/17) at the forefront, collectively delivered to ensure that the hosts were all out for a paltry 103 in 41 overs.

Hall has a ball in Barbados – Super Eight Stage, Bridgetown, 2007

This match was effectively a knockout, with only the winner getting to proceed to the semifinals. England stuttered to 53/3 in the 16th over after Michael Vaughan decided to bat first, before a rescue act came in the form of a fourth-wicket stand of 58 between Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood. Kallis removed Strauss for 46 in the 33rd over, and from that point onwards, the English innings went into a complete meltdown, thanks to fast-bowling all-rounder Andrew Hall.

Hall began by having Collingwood out leg-before, and quickly followed it up by castling Andrew Flintoff. He soon added three more wickets to his kitty to finish with a return of 5/18 from his ten overs – the best by a South African in World Cup history and also the best at the 2007 World Cup – as England were shot out for 154. Captain Graeme Smith added to England’s misery with a rousing 89* in 58 balls that completed his team’s nine-wicket win in the 20th over.

A humdinger at Chepauk – Group Stage, Chennai, 2011

England staged an incredible comeback to win a low-scorer, in what was their fourth match of the tournament. They were subjected to a torrid start by left-arm spinner Robin Petersen (3/22), who scalped captain Strauss, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell to leave the score at 15/3 in the fifth over. Jonathan Trott (52) and Ravi Bopara (60) repaired the damage by adding 99 for the fourth wicket, but leg-spinner Imran Tahir (4/38) saw to it that England went from 114/3 to 171 all out.

Hashim Amla and Smith put on 63 for the opening wicket, but three wickets in five overs, two of them (those of Amla and Kallis) to Stuart Broad, led the score to fall to 82/3. Yet, at 124/3 in the 32nd over, South Africa were well on course. What followed was a stunning collapse that turned the game on its head, as four wickets fell for just three runs. England ultimately held their nerve for a six-run win in the 48th over, with Broad collecting the last two wickets to end up with 4/15.

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Rustom Deboo is a cricket aficionado and freelance writer from Mumbai. He is an ardent devotee of T...

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