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T20 World Cup: South Africa secures 18-run win over spirited USA in Super Eight duel

South Africa's Marco Jansen (right) and USA's Andries Gous greet each other at the end of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between the United States and South Africa at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, Wednesday, June 19, 2024.

South Africa’s Marco Jansen (right) and USA’s Andries Gous greet each other at the end of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup cricket match between the USA and South Africa at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. | Photo credit: AP

The resilient Andries Gous led a sensational comeback for the USA, but the experienced South Africans claimed an 18-point victory in their T20 World Cup Group 2 Super Eight match in Antigua on Wednesday.

South African-born Gous led a stunning comeback for the USA, scoring 80 in 47 balls, peppered with five sixes and as many fours, to keep his team in the game until the final over. The last laugh, however, went to the Proteas, who opened their account with two points in the bag.

Even on a deck favourable to batting like the one here at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, it would have been a monumental task for the USA to reach 195 against South Africa’s bowling attack, but the Associated Nation showed incredible grit to finish the match on 176 for six.

South African-born Gous fought something of a lone battle throughout most of the USA’s reply, putting on an incredible 91-run stand for the sixth wicket alongside Harmeet Singh (38, 22 balls, 2×4, 3×6), but South Africa simply had too many on the board.

Although Steven Taylor (24 off 14 balls, 4×4, 1×6) set the tone for the USA at the top early on, others like Nitish Kumar (8), captain Aaron Jones (0), Corey Anderson (12) and Shayan Jahangir (3) failed with the bat, which almost meant the end of their team.

Trailing 76/5 in the 12th over, the USA still needed 119 runs to win, so they seemed to be at the end.

But Gous, who has played for South Africa in the Under-19 national team, and world champion Harmeet went for a bloodbath to get their team as close as possible, swinging his bat at will and finding gaps with precision as the South African bowlers, who had almost secured a comfortable victory, took cover.

In addition, left-hander Harmeet delivered some powerful blows, especially towards the end against Tabraiz Shamsi, to keep the USA in the race even though the required rate was around 15 runs per over.

But in the end, it was Kagiso Rabada’s (4-0-18-3) genius that secured victory for the Proteas after he broke their stubborn partnership and conceded just two runs in the penultimate over.

The resistance of the USA also significantly reduced South Africa’s lead, which would have been much larger had the two not scored 91 for the sixth wicket.

Earlier, Quinton de Kock had led the attack with 74 from 40 balls, setting the tone for South Africa, whose top order eventually held out with a robust performance that took them to 194 for four in the first half.

On a pitch that was expected to be slow and spin-happy, De Kock defied expectations and beat the USA bowlers while scoring his first fifty runs of the tournament as South Africa managed 194 for four runs in 20 overs.

De Kock’s fireworks at the top and captain Aiden Markram’s fluid 46 also helped South Africa overcome its problems in the upper batting order after the frontline batters had collectively failed in the group stage.

Towards the end, Heinrich Klaasen (36 not out) and Tristan Stubbs (20 not out) scored an unbeaten 53 runs for the fifth wicket in just five overs.

De Kock led South Africa’s attack after a poor start in which Reeza Hendricks (11) was the latest victim of Saurabh Netravalkar (2/21) in the powerplay, and scored 110 runs from just 60 balls for the second wicket with Markram.

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