Impressive England steamroller South Africa
England produced arguably their great ever Twenty20 performance to crush South Africa by 39 runs to stand on the verge of qualifying for their first ever Twenty20 World Cup semi final appearance.
Englandís new found confidence in Twenty20 cricket was apparent at the start of South Africaís innings with attacking fields that limited the Proteas start to just 7 runs from the first two overs as Ryan Sidebottom and Tim Bresnan bowled perfectuly.
Sidebottom was removed from the attack after just one over and his replacement, Stuart Broad conceded a massive six from his first delivery which was dispatched by Jacques Kallis over midwicket.
To his credit; Broad regained his composure to concede just 3 more runs from his opening over to restrict South Africa 16-0 after 3 overs.
Bresnan retuned to bowl his second over and he maintain the growing pressure on South Africa conceding only three runs as the Proteas reached 19-.0, in comparison after four overs England were 97-1.
With the run rate up to 9.37 an over Kallis (11) tried to break the shackles at the start of the 5th over but he could only pick out Kevin Pietersen at mid on as England make their first break through to gain control of the game.
With the loss of Kallis; Graeme Smith ended the over on a brighter note by scoring a boundary after Broad had suffered a front foot no ball which was also over waist high.
Smith was joined at the crease by Herschelle Gibbs as the Proteas power play came to an end which had seen them score only 34 runs. At the same point in the first innings England was 65-1.
With the power plays over Paul Collingwood took a leaf out of his counterparts book and brought spinner, Michael Yardy into the attack and it paid off straight away.
Yardyís first deliver was a peach, slow with plenty of bounce it forced Gibbs into an attempted slog which he top edged to Sidebottom who took an excellent diving catch in the covers to reduce the Proteas to 34-2.
South Africaís third wicket quickly followed an over later after Smith was caught by Michael Lumb out on the boundary to give Graeme Smith a wicket in his first over to leave the Proteas deep in trouble with the score 44-3.
With the possibilities of another 6 overs of spin from Yardy and Swann; Albie Morkel and AB de Villiers now had a mountain to climb with 8 overs gone the required run rate had now increased to over 10 an over.
That mountain got even higher when Yardy struck at the start of the 9th over to bowl Albie Morkel (0) to leave South Africa in tatters with the score 46-4.
After struggerling to come to terms with the shortest format of the game during the last couple of years England were in the process of producing, arguably their greatest ever Twenty20 performance to send out a warning to the other teams still involved in the tournament.
Swann increased the pressure by picking up his second wicket of the inning after Collingwood caught AB de Villiers (5) to leave the Proteas 53-5 after 10 overs.
The relentless pressure of spin continued for a 7th straight over as Yardy continued to toe the South Africa batsman up in knots as the required run rate increased to 12 an over.
With two full time spinners in their line up England had the ability to starve the batsman of runs but Mark Boucher and JP Duminy were giving Collingwood some moments of concern with especially Duminy who hit a couple of big sixes.
Boucher (9) tried to follow his lead but smashing Swann for a massive six; but hitting into the wind the ball dropped short of the boundary into the hands of Eoin Morgan to end an excellent partnership of 37.
With Swann completing his 4th over, the England spinners had bowled 8 overs in a row conceding just 65 runs but more importantly picking up five wicket to leave England in complete control with the Proteas needing 77 runs from just 36 balls.
With the out come of the game already known the innings started to go off the boil as England tried to get through their overs as soon as possible.
The only bright sot for South Africa was the inning of Duminy, well his fellow teammates struggle Duminy should he class with a wonderful innings of 39 before he was dismissed by Sidebottom at the start of the 16th over.
With England set to claim the two pointís the loss of Duminy was a major blow for South Africa who were now in danger of being bowled out and with one more game to go; qualification for the semi finals could come down to run rates if Pakistan beat South Africa.
Dale Steyn (5), Johan Botha (12) and Morne Morkel (1) quickly followed Duminy as England warped up a fantastic victory to stand on the verge of the semi finals.
Having won the toss Paul Collingwood decided to bat first against South Africa but it was the Proteas who made the first big break through.
Instead of opening with the pace of Dale Steyn South Africa skipper Graeme Smith decided to give the new ball to Johan Botha who repaid his skipper faith by picking up the wicket of Michael Lumb from just the 5th delivery of the over.
Lumb seemed troubled by the Pakistan spinners on Thursday but he kept Botha at bay without looking troubled until he failed to read the pace of Bothaís 5th delivery which wrapped him on his pads trapping him plum LBW.
It was the perfect start South Africa desperately wanted and it brought England danger man Kevin Pietersen to the crease inside the first over as the intensity increased out on the pitch.
With the pressure on England; Craig Kieswetter and Pietersen responded in fine fashion dispatching three boundaries during the second over which was bowled by Steyn as the pair made amends for the lose of Lumb so early.
The big hitting continued in the third over as Albie Morkel suffered a torrid time conceding 13 runs as the England batsman punished to awful bowling which included two no balls.
The second no ball of the over saw Kieswetter caught by Steyn out on the boundary as South Africa started to become rattled by the quick scoring of England since the wicket.
Charl Langeveldt offered some resistantís by conceding just 7 runs but the boundaries continued to flow when an obviously rattled Morkel returned to bowl the 5th over which saw another two boundaries conceded as Englandís rampage continued.
Kieswetter started the final over of fielding restrictions which a massive six off the bowling of Langeveldt which brought up the 50 partnership with Pietersen. After the early lose of Lumb England were now cruising along at a massive 10.46 an over.
By the time Langeveldt had completed his over Kieswetter had scored another to boundaries as England reach 65-1 at the end of the power play overs.
With England threatening to run up a massive score Smith responded by bringing Jacques Kallis and Botha back into the attack. The pair bowled 4 overs of slow bowling which saw Kieswetter and Pietersen score just 17 runs as the pace was taken off the ball.
Normal service was resumed in the next over by Pietersen who dispatched Steyn for a boundary and then a massive six which landed on the roof of the Greenidge and Haynes stands.
Pietersen then brought up an incredible half century with a flick through midwicket which crashed into the boundary boards to cap a brilliant innings.
Heís contribution was ended in the next over by Botha but the damage had already been done in a stunning blitz that lasted 33 balls as Pietersen completed one of the best innings of the tournament and his England career.
With the wicket of Pietersen; Kallis was brought back into the attack and he was on course for another good over conceding just one run until Paul Collingwood pulled him for a massive six over midwicket to end the over.
After being overshadowed by Pietersen; Kieswetter added to the six total with a massive six over midwicket off the bowling of JP Duminy but the bowler struck back when Kieswetter (41) attempted to repeat the shot two balls later to leave England 113-3.
With the lose of Kieswetter; Collingwood (14) tried to increase the tempo by smashing Morkel for a massive six over long on but the bowler had the last laugh when wicket keeper Mark Boucher caught a spiralling catch two balls later to dismiss the England skipper to leave England 124-4.
After such an aggressive start by England the Proteas had worked their way back into the game by picking up the wickets of Pietersen and Kieswetter in the space of 2 overs which left the game well poised with 5 overs remaining.
Englandís momentum started to stall when Langeveldt bowled Luke Wright (0) with a perfect yorker at the start of the 16th over before going on to concede just 2 runs.
After the fireworks of Pietersen and Kieswetter England were in danger of ending their innings with a disappointing total and when Eoin Morgan (21) was brilliantly caught by AB de Villiers at the start of the 18th over a total of 180 now seemed unlikely.
Michael Yardy and Tim Bresnan added 14 valuable runs at the end of the innings before Bresnan (13) was bowled by an in-swinger from Morkel. Yardy was joined at the crease by fellow spinner Graeme Swann and the pair added another 6 runs to help England reach 168-7.