By Sa'adi Thawfeeq
BIRMINGHAM, Tuesday - South Africa left themselves with a slim chance of qualifying for the Emirates Triangular Series final when they were restricted to a total of 244 for seven wickets off fifty overs in their preliminary round match against England played at Edgbaston here today.
Having taken first strike after winning the toss, South Africa were pinned down by accurate England bowling, to 172 for six in 40 overs before Pat Symcox used the long handle in the latter stages to smack 51 off 39 balls with four sixes and two fours and leave England with an asking rate of 4.90 runs per over to win. Symcox hit 17 runs off Peter Martin's ninth over to move to his half-century.
For South Africa to qualify, they need to bowl England out under a total of 197, regardless of the number of overs. Any score over 197 will put England in the final against Sri Lanka at Lord's on Thursday.
Fast bowler Darren Gough once again gave England the early breakthrough by removing both openers within five runs of each other. He returned for his second spell to clean bowl top scorer Darryl Cullinan for 70 scored off 73 balls with one six and eight fours to finish with figures of 3 for 43. Cullinan fell short by seven runs to reach 3000 runs in one-day internationals. With skipper Hansie Cronje, who made 31 before falling lbw to spinner Robert Croft attempting a reverse sweep, Cullinan added 67 off 92 balls for the fourth wicket. The only other noteworthy stand in the innings was 69 off 59 balls between Shaun Pollock and Symcox for the seventh wicket.
South Africa in 14-run win over England
By Sa'adi Thawfeeq
BIRMINGHAM, Tuesday - South Africa achieved a hollow victory at Edgbaston here today when they beat England by 14 runs, but still found themselves out of the Emirates Triangular tournament final on the net run rate.
Having scored 244 for seven wickets off 50 overs, South Africa needed to keep England under a total of 197 if they were to have any chance of making it to the final against Sri Lanka at Lord's on Thursday. But England, who beat the world champions on Tuesday at Lord's, ensured they passed the total, despite losing to South Africa. England were eventually dismissed for 230 in 48.5 overs, to leave all three teams equal on two points apiece after two matches.
Sri Lanka and England went through to the final on a better nett run rate than South Africa. In fact, both finalists finished with identical nett run rates of plus 0.22. South Africa's nett run rate was minus 0.43.
Whatever chance South Africa had of keeping England under the required total were blown away by Nick Knight and Graeme Hick, who shared a third wicket stand of 113 off 133 balls after Jonty Rhodes had given South Africa a flying start by running out Alistair Brown for nought with a superb piece of fielding at backward point.
While left-hander Knight played a sheet anchor role, Hick produced another fine innings of class, making 64 off 72 balls with one six and five fours, before being deceived by Hansie Cronje's slower ball.
England suffered a slump after his dismissal as Cronje removed Nassar Hussain for one and, off-spinner Pat Symcox took two wickets for one run off six balls by sending back Knight for 74 (114 balls, seven fours) and Adam Hollioake for 10. From 161 for two, England had slid to 193 for 6 in 41 overs.
However, newcomer Ian Austin, playing in only his second international, ensured England qualify for the final when he cover drove Jacques Kallis for four to bring up the 200 in the 42nd over. England's efforts from there onwards to overhaul South Africa's total became less academic and they folded up for 230.
But not before Rhodes brought off one of the finest catches seen in the game. He took off vertically from his position at cover to hold onto a powerful drive from Croft, that would have sailed over the head of any other ordinary fieldsman. But Rhodes doesn't belong to that class, he is superhuman. England captain Alec Stewart, described Rhodes as ``the best fielder in international cricket without doubt''.
Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock returned for their second spells to clean off the tail without much ado, so that once again, as in their first match against Sri Lanka, England had suffered a collapse. On this occasion they lost their last eight wickets for 69 runs. It was an area which should concern England when they play Sri Lanka in the final on Thursday. Adjudicator Ian Botham made Symcox the 1,500 pounds sterling Man-of-the-Match for his contribution of 51 off 39 balls and figures of 2 for 36 off ten overs.