England put Proteas to the sword
England put themselves on course for a place in the ICC World Twenty20 semi-finals with a 39-run trouncing of South Africa in the Super Eight match in Barbados.
They cashed in on Kevin Pietersen’s second successive half-century to post 168 for seven - a challenge South Africa never threatened to meet as spinners Michael Yardy and Graeme Swann took five important wickets for 55 between them.
England therefore remain unbeaten in Group E and, even if South Africa can see off champions Pakistan in St Lucia on Monday, Paul Collingwood's side must simply avoid a heavy defeat to New Zealand later that day at the same venue to reach the last four.
Pietersen, who smashed 53 from 33 balls, shared a second-wicket stand of 94 in under 11 overs with Craig Kieswetter, once Michael Lumb went early after Collingwood had won the toss.
England were unable to convert the momentum of that partnership into a truly dominant total, but were still well in advance of the runs put on the board in today’s earlier match between New Zealand and Pakistan on this same surface.
A surprise over of new-ball spin from Johan Botha did for Lumb, pinned lbw on the back foot by a quicker and flatter delivery.
However, Pietersen and Kieswetter responded with all-out attack, against their native country.
Pietersen was first to climb into a succession of front-foot fours off pacemen Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, the former suffering most notably.
Kieswetter had a little fortune on his side - caught at third man on seven only to be reprieved by a Morkel no-ball, and badly dropped at deep midwicket by JP Duminy on 29 with the score 79 for one in the 10th over.
The faster the ball was delivered, on a pacy pitch, the further the duo seemed to hit it; Pietersen charged to his fifty with his eighth four to go with a six from just 30 balls.
The stand ended when Pietersen swept Botha straight into the hands of short fine-leg - just reward for the off-spinner, who conceded only 15 runs in four overs.
But Collingwood soon demonstrated he was up for some power-hitting too, depositing the fourth ball he faced - from Jacques Kallis - into the stand at wide long-on.
Kieswetter produced a mirror-image six to the opposite corner of the ground from Duminy’s first ball of the next over, but got underneath another big hit straight afterwards to heave high to long-on, where he well held by Steyn.
Collingwood managed another mighty maximum over his preferred corner before skying a catch almost in the crease to be caught behind off Morkel - and when Luke Wright was bowled trying to heave a well-directed yorker from Charl Langeveldt, much depended on Eoin Morgan to deliver yet again.
He did well enough with 21 to help a par 43 come from the last five overs, in a total which was not as big as had seemed likely yet nonetheless proved to be plenty.
After the top three were gone for 44 in the eighth over, South Africa were already up against it.
Captain Graeme Smith was third out, chipping a catch to deep midwicket in Swann’s first over.
Yardy had outdone Swann’s party piece of striking early as Herschelle Gibbs swepts his first delivery to Sidebottom, running and tumbling back from short fine-leg.
Before then, Kallis had mistimed a drive at Stuart Broad straight to mid-off and Albie Morkel went for a second-ball duck when he was bowled by Yardy.
The chase was way off schedule, and stayed that way.
AB de Villiers mistimed a pull at Swann and was caught in the ring, and, although Duminy, who hit 39, and the dependable Mark Boucher tried to mount some resistance, they had been left with much too much to do.
In the end they were unable even to bat their overs, and Sidebottom took advantage with late wickets to finish with the best statistics of 3-23, while Swann took 3-24.