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Hales and Morgan give England hope against South Africa

| 28.03.2014

England (5/4) may yet lose to South Africa (8/13) on Saturday and fail to qualify for the semi-finals of the Twenty20 World Cup, but they sure have a better chance now than they had midway through yesterday afternoon when just about everybody assumed they were out for the count.

An embarrassing series of dropped catches, along with a diabolical decision by the fourth umpire, helped Sri Lanka pile up an imposing 189 and when England lost two wickets in reply in the first over, Stuart Broad’s men were 33/1 with Coral to win the tournament outright.

Less than two hours later, they were back into 10/1 as Alex Hales, ably assisted by Eoin Morgan (57), turned the game completely on its head with a fantastic 116 not out, a match-winning knock that included six sixes, including the coup de grace in the final over.

Which just goes to show how unpredictable these Twenty20 games can be. Before the game we all thought that If England were to beat the world-ranked number one side, they would need everything to go right.

But in the end the butterfingers and the missed stumping didn’t matter as Hales chased the target down, becoming the first England player to score a Twenty20 century in the process (after previously going close with 94 and 99).

Dramatic as that win was, it would and should have been overshadowed by the Netherlands recording a famous victory over South Africa earlier in the day, but they faltered at the death and the Proteas were spared their blushes.

Now it’s down to the nitty gritty for England and South Africa with the loser going out and the winner perhaps scraping through to the last four, although it may all come down to run-rate.

The winners might even win Group 1. Sri Lanka looked shoo-ins, but are now 4/5 with Coral ahead of New Zealand 9/4, England 6/1 and South Africa 8/1.

England still have issues, especially in the field, but they will have gained a huge amount of confidence from beating Sri Lanka in such spectacular fashion and I fancy they will carry on the good work against a side which won’t be anything like so cock-a-hoop after making such hard work of beating the group minnows.

Back in the Caribbean in 2010, England got through to the Super 8s by the skin of their teeth before embarking on a five-match winning run that secured them the Twenty20 World Cup. It’s still a long shot, but you never know, perhaps history is about the repeat itself





Jon Freeman