Clean sweep for South Africa
South Africa tonight booked a semi-final return to Trent Bridge with a fifth successive ICC World Twenty20 victory as defending champions India drew a Super Eights blank.
India were already out of the equation after their defeat against England at Lord’s on Sunday.
But if their millions of supporters were hoping for a winning response against the tournament favourites in Nottingham, they were disappointed again as their heroes could muster only 118 for eight to lose by 12 runs to the batting of AB de Villiers (63) and then a collective effort from South Africa’s slow bowlers.
India, who had no answer to a barrage of short balls from England at the weekend, faltered this time as spin increasingly dominated and dictated events.
On a pitch which helped the slow bowlers all day - Ajantha Mendis held the key for Sri Lanka against New Zealand this afternoon - South Africa’s exponents were superior.
Their combined spin-bowling figures were 9-0-32-5, to India’s 14-0-75-4 - and that was more than enough to decide the outcome and ensure Graeme Smith’s men will face Pakistan here in the last four on Thursday.
After restricting their opponents to 130 for five thanks to a hard-working performance in the field, India were exactly up with the early run-rate established by their opponents - on 47 for none at the end of the six overs of powerplay.
But it was at that point Smith turned to the off-spin of Johan Botha (3-16) for the first time, and with only his second delivery he had Gautam Gambhir caught at extra cover.
Four wickets then fell for 14 runs in 28 balls as a succession of batsmen failed to deal with spin on and pace off the ball at both ends.
Even the big-hitting Yuvraj Singh, dropped on nought when he offered a return catch to off-spinner JP Duminy, could not make the difference, and by the time he went caught behind off fast bowler Dale Steyn in the 19th over, the game was up.
After winning the toss, South Africa began the contest by losing Herschelle Gibbs to an under-edged pull on to his stumps off RP Singh in the second over, and Smith followed in the ninth when he holed out in the leg-side off Harbhajan Singh.
De Villiers found near immediate fluency, but South Africa still lost a little momentum as they added only 21 runs between the five and 10-over mark.
Their number three struck Yuvraj over extra-cover for his team’s first boundary in nine overs, and added a second - his sixth in all - wide of long-on from the very next delivery to bring up a 41-ball half-century.
Despite the departure of Duminy, stumped after missing some turn from occasional left-arm orthodox Suresh Raina, De Villiers tried to up the ante, and when he skied a return catch back to Ravindra Jadeja he had made significantly more than half his team’s 110 for four.
South Africa managed to add only 32 in the last five overs. But India always seemed unlikely to have an easy chase in the prevailing conditions, and so it proved.