England sink South Africa to close in on T20 semi-final
ICC World Twenty20, Barbados: England 168-7 (20 ovs) beat South Africa 129 (19 ovs) by 39 runs Match scorecard
Pietersen's scintillating innings gave England a magnificent platform to build upon
by Jamie Lillywhite
England took a major step towards the semi-finals of the ICC World Twenty20 after crushing South Africa by 39 runs.
Kevin Pietersen hit an imperious 53 off 33 balls and Craig Kieswetter fired two sixes in his 41 as England struck 98 in 11 overs and posted a total of 168-7.
Spinners Graeme Swann and Michael Yardy then shared five early wickets and despite two sixes from JP Duminy in his 39, South Africa were all out for 129.
Victory over New Zealand on Monday would take England into the last four.
Paul Collingwood's team could even go through if they lose to the Kiwis should Pakistan beat South Africa, but losing is not on the agenda for an England team whose confidence is high.
After his match-winning unbeaten 73 against Pakistan, Pietersen was at his sublime best again with a stunning array of strokes as they shrugged off the first-over dismissal of Michael Lumb, trapped lbw by spinner Johan Botha's quicker ball.
Dale Steyn opened up from the other end, but Kieswetter struck a glorious drive past extra cover and Pietersen got off the mark with a straight drive followed by an exquisitely-timed stroke through the covers as 13 came from the over.
Kieswetter sliced straight to third man when on seven but survived because Morne Morkel was no-balled for over-stepping and South Africa's frustration was compounded as an edge by Pietersen edge bisected Jacques Kallis and keeper Mark Boucher, leaving the two veterans looking at each other and the ball flying to the boundary.
Morkel's first two overs went for 24 and Charl Langeveldt fared little better as Kieswetter stepped down the pitch to thump him over extra cover for a mighty six before moving across to sweep from off stump for four.
The six powerplay overs produced 65 runs for England and although Botha returned to briefly calm the scoring rate, he was frustrated when Kieswetter, on 29, lofted to deep mid-wicket where JP Duminy settled under the ball only to fumble the chance.
Pietersen then pulled Steyn onto the roof of the Greenidge and Haynes stand and completed his 50 from 30 balls with a delightful whipped shot through mid-wicket for four, but his magnificent innings ended in the next over when a sweep off Botha looped his old adversary Graeme Smith at short fine leg.
Paul Collingwood kept the scoreboard ticking by swiping Jacques Kallis for six over mid-wicket before Kieswetter, after thumping Duminy for six in similar fashion, fell to the same bowler when he holed out to Steyn, who took a well-judged catch fractionally inside the rope at long-on.
Eoin Morgan began his innings with a reverse sweep for four and Collingwood strode down the pitch to hit another massive six off Morkel, before top-edging a skier that Boucher accepted safely.
The ever-combative Sidebottom sealed England's fine win
Morgan was brilliantly caught for 21 by AB de Villiers running backwards in the deep and South Africa did well in the closing overs to leave themselves with a target which was well within their scope if they made a good start to their reply.
But it was not to be and Stuart Broad removed Jacques Kallis, who drilled a catch to Pietersen at mid-off, as South Africa only mustered 34-1 from the first six overs.
The pressure intensified when Herschelle Gibbs spooned all-rounder Michael Yardy's first ball behind square and Ryan Sidebottom showed surprising agility to leap backwards for a spectacular catch.
In the next over Swann struck with his fourth ball when Graeme Smith, after struggling for 19, mis-timed a sweep and was caught at deep mid-wicket.
Yardy then bowled Albie Morkel through the gate with one that turned out of the rough and Swann collected his second wicket when De Villiers skied to mid-wicket to leave South Africa 53-5 in the 10th over.
Duminy launched Swann for a mighty straight six but Mark Boucher, attempting another big shot, could only find deep mid-wicket where Morgan nonchalantly took the catch.
The persevering Ryan Sidebottom removed Duminy, who spooned a catch to short fine, but Botha hit a massive six before the left-armer wrapped things up with the final ball of the 19th over, a yorker, which bowled Morkel to give him figures of 3-23.
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