T20,  USA Cricket,  World Cup

Super Eights: Heading South against South Africa

The USA Cricket team put a couple of scares into South Africa in the first match in the Super Eights round of the 2024 T20 World Cup, but in the end, it was South Africa's big bats that took them to victory in Antigua.

And the two of the biggest bats belonged to names that should be familiar to fans in the US. Quinton de Kock, 74 runs from 40 balls, and Heinrich Klaasen, 36 from 22, were the second and third highest run scorers in Major League Cricket last year while playing for the Seattle Orcas.

After winning the toss and deciding to field first -- a strategy that's been successful so far at tournament matches at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium -- the US bowling attack started strong. In his first two overs, Saurabh Netravalkar, who's been grabbing the wickets of cricket's elite this month, gave up just seven runs while getting Reeza Hendricks to fly out. South Africa was at a flimsy 17 for 1 at the end of three, but that's when they dug in.

Two fours and two sixes highlighted a 28-run 4th over and it wasn't until Harmeet Singh's shutdown 13th over that the damage could be contained. Singh, also with the Seattle Orcas, held South Africa to just two runs for the over while taking the wickets of already-dangerous de Kock and potentially-dangerous David Miller (who beat up MLC bowlers last year as a member of the Texas Super Kings).

Despite SA's run rate topping 11 at times and being on a pace for 200-plus, USA bowlers rode Singh's momentum and were able to restrict the Proteas to 194 for their innings.

Super Eights 1 600

Like their bowling attack, the USA Bats started off tropically hot. Despite losing Steven Taylor in the 4th over, they were still 51 for the loss of only one wicket through five overs. Andries Gous, one of the top scorers for the Washington Freedom last year, opened and anchored the innings -- and eventually put up a score of 80 from 47 balls without being retired. Unfortunately, his consistency wasn't contagious and the middle order couldn't keep its feet on the gas. Corey Anderson's 12, Nitish Kumar's 8, Shayan Jahangir's 3, and Aaron Jones' 0 from 5 balls aren't the stuff of high-scoring run chases.

Harmeet Singh, who was the savior of the bowling attack in the first innings, attempted to play the same role with the bat. His 38 from 22 balls was part of a 91-run partnership with Gous that put a late fear into South Africa. In the end, though, they simply ran out of time and deliveries, finishing at 176 for 6 -- 18 runs short of the Proteas tally.

Friday, the US will take on the West Indies, who went 4-0 in the group stage of the tournament but couldn't contain England in Wednesday's late Super Eights match.

The Windies, in front of a boisterous home crowd in St. Lucia, looked as though they were firing at the same pace that torched Afghanistan for 218 on Monday night. They were 72/0 after eight overs before spinner Adil Rashid was able to slow them down. Rashid was able to shut them down in the 9th, 13th, and 17th over, sucking the wind out of whatever momentum they were building. The West Indies would finish their innings at a respectable, but chasable 180.

Super Eights 2 600

England, who have been playing with their backs against the wall since dropping a group stage match to Australia, continued to bat like a team possessed. As they did against both Oman and Namibia, they scored fast and often. Riding the bat of Phil Salt, 87 runs from 47 balls without being retired, England was able to chase down the Windies total with 15 balls to spare. The West Indies spin attack, which had been dominant, showed it was vulnerable, but it was its pace attack that was the most disappointing; Salt's 30-run over off Romario Shepherd being the most explosive offensive display of the entire tournament.

Both the US and the West Indies know that a loss on Friday night would probably end any hopes of a trip to the semi-finals, so the action will be intense in Barbados.

Friday night's match starts at 8:30 EDT.

© CricAmerica.com/Steve Steinberg 2024

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *