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De Villiers powers South Africa into World T20 semi-finals

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Once universally derided as the great 'chokers' in world cricket, South Africa has discovered a new steely spine in the T20 format as the Proteas booked their place in the semi-finals of the ICC World T20 with a narrow 3 run win against England, the third straight time that they have defended a target successfully in a thrilling contest.

AB de Villiers was the star of the show for South Africa as he took the England attack by the scruff of the neck to play one of the legendary innings of T20 International cricket.

It was the third time in a row that the Proteas had gone right to the wire to clinch victory although they had a bit more in hand this time than the result suggests. Dale Steyn had 22 runs to defend in the final over and England needed 10 off the last ball.

But none of that would have been possible without the magnificent innings of De Villiers who made an unbeaten 69 off 28 balls with 3 sixes and 9 fours and built on the excellent platform laid by Hashim Amla (56 off 37 balls, 6 fours and 2 sixes) and Quinton de Kock who put on 90 for the first wicket in 10.5 overs.

The damage to the England attack reached a climax in the last three overs that went for 26, 15 and 14 runs respectively for a cumulative total of 55 runs. The total of 196 was the highest made in the tournament to date.

Apart from Farhaan Behardien replacing the suspended Faf du Plessis, the Proteas also preferred Wayne Parnell to Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Parnell responded by dismissing the first three England batsmen, including the dangerous Alex Hales, who had made a century in England’s successful runs chase against Sri Lanka in the previous match.

Parnell finished with figures of 3/31 and also strengthened the Proteas in the all-important ‘death bowling’ department.

There were many other heroes for the Proteas but the important point has been the key contributions made by senior players such as Amla, De Villiers – he made a difficult catch in the outfield look ridiculous simple in addition to his runs - JP Duminy and Steyn through the campaign.

Quinton de Kock has made impressive strides behind the stumps. His catch off Steyn against New Zealand was crictical in the final over and his catch to dismiss the dangerous Eoin Morgan this evening was again right out of the top drawer.

And there can be no praise high enough for Imran Tahir who continues to take key middle-innings wickets and is the second leading wicket-taker in the tournament.

The result means that the Proteas qualify for the semi-final from Group A along with either Sri Lanka or New Zealand while England cannot reach the knock-out phase regardless of the outcome of their final match against the Netherlands.

Mini Scorecard:

South Africa 196-5 (20 overs, 9.8rpo)

AB de Villiers 69* (28) J Tredwell 1-25 (3)

H Amla 56 (37) T Bresnan 1-28 (3)

England 193-7 (20 overs, 9.65rpo)

A Hales 38 (22) W Parnell 3-31 (4)

J Buttler 34 (24) I Tahir 2-27 (4)

South Africa win by 3 runs