England pulled off an astonishing 230-run record chase with Joe Root (83) leading an incredible batting performance that powered them to a two-wicket victory against South Africa in the ICC World Twenty20 at Mumbai on Friday.
Required to score at almost 12 runs an over, England turned the chase on its head with Jason Roy and Alex Hales (17) putting on a blistering 48-run partnership for the opening wicket in just 2.3 overs.
Test specialist Root, the no. 2 ranked player in the world in the longest form of the game, threw caution to the wind during his whirlwind 44-ball knock studded with four sixes and six fours, as England succeeded in pulling off the second-best run-chase in T20 Internationals and best in World T20 history by making 230 for 8 in 19.4 overs, thus keeping their hopes alive in the mega-event.
Joe Root during his match winning innings of 83 against South Africa at Wankhede stadium on Friday evening. Pic/AFP
The highest-ever second innings T20 total was put up by the West Indies, 236, also against South Africa in January 2015, when they chased down the home team's 231 for 7 at Johannesburg.
Root came to the crease after openers Roy blitzed his way to 43 in just 16 balls with the help of three sixes and five fours to give England a superb blast-off in the Super 10 Group 1 game at the Wankhede Stadium.
Coming to the crease after England had rocketed off to 71 for 2 in 4.3 overs, Root attacked the bowling with gusto and set up the victory before departing, caught in the deep, when 11 were needed off the last 10 balls.
Amidst mounting tension England crossed the finish line after losing two more wickets with the ninth wicket pair of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid at the crease, the winning run coming off the former's bat.
England, who lost to the West Indies in their tournament opener here two days ago, next play against Afghanistan at Delhi on March 24.
Earlier, South Africa rode on belligerent half centuries from Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla and Jean-Paul Duminy to post a record-high total of 229 for 4.
A near-century opening partnership between right-handed Amla (58 in 31 balls) and left-handed de Kock (52 in 24 balls) set the stage nicely for left handers Duminy (54 not out in 24 balls) and David Miller (24 not out in 11 balls) to finish the innings with a flourish with an unconquered stand of 60 in 27 balls.
Wicketkeeper-batsman de Kock set the stage alight with an all-out attack in the power play before departing for 52, inclusive of 3 sixes and 7 fours.
Amla, playing second fiddle initially, later opened up to smack 58 in 31 balls with an identical number of fours and sixes as the opening duo gave the Proteas a flying start of 96 in 7.1 overs.
Later, Jean-Paul Duminy struck 3 sixes and as many fours to make sure the early blast did not go to waste and the team ended with their highest and third 200-plus score in the tournament's history.
All of England's fast bowlers were wayward while spinners Moeen Ali (2 for 34) and Adil Rashid (1 for 35) were also expensive. Though the likes of Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada proved to be more expensive in the second half.
England started the run-chase in whirlwind fashion with openers Roy and Hales raising 44 in two overs before the latter departed in the third for 17, trapped leg before by Kyle Abbott (3/41).
Hales had struck SA's premier pacer Steyn for four hits to the fence, but got out in the next over with England on 48.
It was Abbott who put the skids again on England by getting rid of Roy, who had started the fireworks by hitting four fours in Rabada's opening over. The opener was caught behind as he tried to repeat a scoop over his shoulder that went for a six the previous ball.
England lost another wicket, that of Ben Stokes for a nine-ball 15 before the power play ended with them being 89 for 3, in comparison to South Africa's 83 without loss, a good retort but only after losing three important wickets.
Imran Tahir and Duminy then bowled in tandem to shackle the opposition, the latter also getting rid of rival captain Eoin Morgan cheaply.
It was up to Root to keep England's hopes high in the company of Jos Buttler, and the duo feasted on some poorly directed bowling to add 75 quick runs for the fifth wicket in only 35 balls.
Root pulled Duminy and slashed Chris Morris for sixes, while Buttler smote the off spinner for another six. But he got out, caught in the deep midwicket region just inside the line off Rabada.
England later just about managed to squeeze home. Tahir was the best bowler on view with fine figures of 2 for 28 in a batsmen-dominated high-scoring game.