/ 17 April 2007

South Africa in semis after outclassing England

South Africa outclassed England to take their place in the World Cup semifinals after a nine-wicket victory in their Super Eights game on Tuesday at the Kensington Oval.

The defeat ended England’s hopes of making the last four and the South Africans now join Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka in the semi-finals.

Andrew Hall took a career-best five for 18 as England slumped to 154 all out and then skipper Graeme Smith made an unbeaten 89 as South Africa ruthlessly knocked off the target with more than 30 overs to spare.

England, who were booed off the field by their large travelling support, now have a meaningless final match of the tournament against hosts West Indies on Saturday in Barbados with both teams now eliminated from the competition.

Hall’s intelligent seam bowling was the decisive element in the game, prompting a middle-order batting collapse, with five English wickets going for just 10 runs.

But after England’s bowling was so ruthlessly dealt with it was easy to speculate whether a higher score would have made much difference.

England captain Michael Vaughan won the toss and opted to bat first on a wicket that has proven lively in the morning sessions, hoping to take advantage of the quicker pace on the track.

Slow start

But Vaughan, opening with Ian Bell, made a slow start and England only managed five runs off the first five overs.

Seamers Shaun Pollock and Charl Langeveldt kept England pegged back and Langeveldt then claimed the wicket of a frustrated Bell who skied an attempted pull shot to Ashwell Prince.

The impressive Andre Nel then trapped Vaughan leg before for 17 to leave England at 37 for two in the 13th over.

The pressure was on England’s South African-born batsman Kevin Pietersen who faced some hostility — with bowling and staring — from Nel.

It was not long before the seamer had his victim with Pietersen (3) spooning a catch to mid-off as he got himself tangled up on a drive.

Another South African-born batsman, Andrew Strauss, got his head down with Paul Collingwood and the pair produced England’s best partnership by putting on 58 before Strauss went for 46.

Collingwood followed shortly afterwards for 30, lbw to Hall who then dealt with England’s last real threat, Andrew Flintoff (5), removing the all-rounder’s middle stump with a ball that cut back off the seam and through a huge gap between bat and pad.

Hall then took Paul Nixon and Sajid Mahmood with successive deliveries and only an unbeaten cameo innings of 27 from Ravi Bopara gave England’s attack something to bowl at.

Hall picked up his fifth wicket with his final ball, dismissing James Anderson leg before as England’s innings ended with two overs remaining.

Any hopes England had of putting their opponents under early pressure were swept aside in the opening overs as South Africa’s opening pair of AB de Villiers and Smith raced to 44 in the opening five overs — Sajid Mahmood going for 28 off his opening two overs.

De Villiers finally went, caught behind off Flintoff for 42, with South Africa at 85 for one in the 10th over.

Jacques Kallis then came in to see things through alongside the impressive Smith who needed just 58 balls for his 89 not out to crown what was his side’s best display of the tournament so far. Smith’s knock included 13 boundaries.

The seven-week tournament culminates in the April 28 final in Bridgetown, Barbados. – Reuters