Cricket World Cup: England back on track after plucky victory
England produced a winning surge in the nick of time to resuscitate their World Cup campaign against South Africa.
Captain Andrew Strauss needed no reminding, after his team had defended a below-par total of 171 all out to scramble a much-needed six-run success, that relief as much as satisfaction was the order of the day for England at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
Only painstaking half-centuries from man-of-the-match Ravi Bopara (60) and Jonathan Trott (52) gave England a worthwhile total on an awkward pitch, which took spin from the outset and provided for reverse-swing too.
They still appeared set for defeat, against Group B's previously unbeaten early front-runners — who put on 63 for the first wicket and reached 124 for three.
But England dug in with some tigerish fielding and overdue expert bowling to exploit the conditions as their opponents lost seven wickets for 41 and Stuart Broad finished with four for 15.
Instead, therefore, of contemplating a week of anxiety in Chittagong before Friday's match against Bangladesh, England can once again consider themselves favourites to progress to the quarter-finals — despite that shock defeat against Ireland four days ago.
“It was a huge game for us, because after the Ireland game we needed to show some character,” said Strauss. “The guys dug very deep in the field — and I was delighted for the bowlers, who have been under the pump.
“We had to get on a roll and put them in a situation where there was pressure on and things happening with the pitch.”
The same held true for England's batsmen, their final six wickets falling for 37 — after the first three, including Strauss, had gone for 15.
“It wasn't one of our best wins ever because we batted poorly really,” he added.
“To lose three wickets early on a pitch like that was criminal really.
“Thankfully Trott and Ravi got us back in the hunt.”