The stage was set, Wankhede stood in all its glory for one of the two teams to make an impact. On the one hand was England, who were trying to recover from the humiliating loss to West Indies, they had to win this match to stay alive in the tournament. On the other hand were perennial favourites- South Africa. A team that spent 72 days touring India last year, a team that enjoys almost home like support in India. Everyone thought it would be South Africa, but fate had a different script in mind.
Hashim Amla and Quinton De Kock provided a thunderous start to the innings. JP Duminy and the remaining players followed suit and the Proteas set a mammoth target of 230 runs. As soon as the last ball was bowled most of us had already written off England. But we were proved wrong. England had not come to be written off, they were here to cross the sea of runs and Joe Root turned out to be their Moses. Jason Roy started the English innings smashing 3 sixes and 5 fours, but a Kyle Abbott delivery marked the end of his innings. In walked Joe Root, he was a man on a mission, at one point it seemed every ball he touched reached the boundary. Root’s game was a perfect blend of orthodox and innovative shots. The South Africans bled runs everywhere. It also didn’t help that they gave 26 extras.
South Africa had essentially lost the match around the 15th over. The body language and demeanour of the players said it all. They started miss fielding! South African’s miss fielding! Dale Steyn leaked runs, Chris Morris cursed himself after getting hit for boundaries, Abbott threw wides , all these visible signs of frustrations. Protea Fire fizzled out, it fizzled out bad. It was classic South Africa, they had lost the match before losing it. But something unusual happened, as the last over approached. There was a change, suddenly there was an urgency in the South Africans to give it all they had, to win, they tightened the fielding, their bowling improved. They managed to get two wickets in two balls, but alas it was too late, England just needed one run to win and they got it. Had South Africa shown more of the character they showed in the last over throughout the innings , it would have been an easy win for them. Joe Root’s anchoring innings will go down in T20 history as one of the finest. As for South Africa, this match will join the list of those ‘unlucky ones’.