USA Vs RSA, Super 8 T20 World Cup: South Africa Overcome Stiff United States Challenge

Rabada was the hero for the Proteas with his 3 for 18, striking at crucial moments in the game to keep his team ahead and eventually helping his team win by 18 runs

AP/Ricardo Mazalan
South Africa's Anrich Nortje, left, celebrates with teammate Kagiso Rabada after the dismissal of United States' Corey Anderson during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between the United States and South Africa at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Photo: AP/Ricardo Mazalan

South Africa overcame a spirited challenge from co-hosts United States of America (USA) on Wednesday in the opening match of the T20 World Cup 2024 Super 8 stage winning the game by 18 runs at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua. (Scorecard | As It Happened)

An almost match-defining stand of 91 runs in 43 balls for the sixth wicket between South Africa-born Andries Gous (80 not out off 47) and Harmeet Singh (38 off 22) from Mumbai kept the American dreams alive in the stiff 195-run chase. But Harmeet holed out in the penultimate over off the first ball of Kagiso Rabada to effectively seal the fate of the match.

Rabada was the hero for the Proteas with his 3 for 18, striking at crucial moments in the game to keep his team ahead.

After setting a daunting 195-run target, USA were off to a good start courtesy Steven Taylor's 14-ball 24. The co-hosts were scoring at above 10 runs an over when in the third over, Rabada forced Taylor to miscue a short delivery to mid-off.

Nitish Kumar then hit a fantastic pick-up six against Marco Jansen in the next over and was looking in great touch before Rabada struck again. Kumar was removed in the fifth over and Proteas from then on kept themselves in command with regular wickets.

USA lost half of their side by the 12th over for just 76 runs and it looked like they were sliding towards a big loss but then the fightback began.

Harmeet, who had struck on back-to-back balls during the Proteas' batting, joined Gouss and the duo looked like pulling off an unbelievable heist.

The duo smashed 19 runs to Anrich Nortje in the 15th over and then followed it up with a 13-run 16th over from Tabraiz Shamsi. A 22-run 18th over against Shamsi meant that the victory was just 28 runs away from the co-hosts with 12 balls remaining.

However Rabada was ready again to crush the American dream. Harmeet could not clear the boundary on the first ball of the penultimate over by Rabada and the wicket killed the game.

Earlier, USA were again led by Aaron Jones in the absence of Monank Patel. Jones invited the Proteas to bat and his trump card Saurabh Netravalkar removed Reeza Hendricks in the third over to prove his captain correct. However, an out of form Quinton de Kock decided to get some runs and despite a slow start and an early wicket South Africa recovered.

De Kock clubbed five sixes and seven fours in his 40-ball 74 and kept the Proteas on track for a 200-plus score. He was well assited by skipper Aiden Markram who got a crucial 46 from 32 balls.

However, Harmeet removed de Kock and David Miller on consecutive balls to pull things back. Some fine death bowling from Netravalkar meant that the Proteas could not plunder runs in the end and were restricted to 194/4. Netravalkar and Harmeet picked two wickets each for USA.

USA now go up against fellow co-hosts West Indies in their next Super 8 match on June 21 while South Africa play England on the same day.