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T20 World Cup: SA skipper Markram praises bowlers and de Kock after impressive win against England

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Gros Islet (St Lucia), June 22 (IANS) After South Africa continued their impressive run at the T20 World Cup 2024, securing a hard-fought seven-run victory over England at Darren Sammy Stadium on Friday, skipper Markram lauded Quinton de Kock for scintillating innings of 65 from 38 balls, which South Africa captain Aiden Markram hailed as the defining factor in the team's victory.

De Kock's aggressive approach at the top of the order set the tone for South Africa's innings. His 22-ball half-century, featuring four towering sixes, propelled South Africa to a strong position during the powerplay, reaching 63 without loss. Despite the pitch slowing down considerably as the game progressed, South Africa managed to post a competitive total of 163 for 6, a score that proved to be just enough to edge out England.

Reflecting on the match, Markram praised his team's resilience and fighting spirit, which has been a hallmark of their campaign. "Yeah, we've had a few of those so far in this comp," Markram said after the match. "But specifically today's, probably getting to those last three overs and it looks like the odds will be heavily against you, and for the bowlers to hang in there, have really good plans and ultimately get the execution right, shows a lot of skill. But I think it comes from deeper and that fighting spirit, like you mentioned, helped us a lot."

England's chase started on a rocky note, losing Phil Salt early and then Jonny Bairstow shortly after. Jos Buttler's dismissal for 17 off 20 balls and Moeen Ali's departure left England reeling at 61 for 4. However, a spirited 78-run partnership between Harry Brook and Liam Livingstone brought them back into contention. Their aggressive batting, particularly during overs 15 to 17, where they added 52 runs, put significant pressure on the South African bowlers.

Markram acknowledged the challenge posed by Brook and Livingstone, emphasising the need for his bowlers to maintain their composure. "It's always a tricky one, you want to see the bowlers' best skills. You want to give him the freedom to bowl his best ball first before changing to conditions. It was a bit nerve-wracking there in those overs. The plans were okay but the execution let us down, but that's okay, that's part of the game. You do have to give credit to Liam and to Brooky, they put us under the pump, and ultimately in the last few overs it was good to see the bowlers respond."

The final overs saw South Africa's bowlers, including Kagiso Rabada, Marco Jansen, and Anrich Nortje, showcase their nerve and skill to close out the match. Markram highlighted the critical role played by the opening partnership between de Kock and Reeza Hendricks, which laid the foundation for their total.

"I thought Quinny and Reeza [Hendricks] took on the powerplay beautifully for us but then it definitely got slower," Markram noted. "I probably wanted another 10-20 runs, being greedy, especially on the back of that really good start. We needed to try and squeeze in the middle, try and save as many runs as we could in the field and build pressure that way. As a whole, we are probably getting closer to the really complete game of cricket. Not quite there just yet, but we are definitely on the right track."

--IANS

hs/


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