England qualified for the semi-finals of the Men’s T20 World Cup despite a 10-run defeat by South Africa in Sharjah.
Chasing 190, England needed 14 from the final six balls but Kagiso Rabada began the over with a hat-trick, having Chris Woakes, Eoin Morgan and Chris Jordan caught in the deep.
England secured their place in the knockout stages by reaching 87, and confirmed their status as group winners by reaching 106.
However, perhaps significantly for the rest of the tournament, they lost opener Jason Roy to what appeared to be a serious calf injury.
He looked close to tears when forced to retire hurt and was using crutches after the game.
In an entertaining game full of wonderful striking, Rassie van der Dussen made a brilliant 94 not out from 60 balls in South Africa’s 189-2, sharing an unbroken 103-run stand with Aiden Markram, who scored 52 not out from 25 deliveries.
The result did not affect the Super 12 standings, but at the least it checked England’s momentum after four comprehensive wins in succession.
West Indies, Bangladesh, Australia and Sri Lanka were swatted aside with ease and Eoin Morgan’s team were charging towards the knockout stages.
Although their batters almost rescued a sloppy performance with the ball and in the field, England go into their semi-final – most likely against New Zealand, Afghanistan or India – with questions that were not evident before.
The biggest concern is the injury to Roy, whose departure had an undoubted impact on the result of this game. Having made 20 off 15 balls, he pulled up running a single and had to be helped off the ground.
England have already lost fast bowler Tymal Mills for the rest of the tournament with a thigh strain.
He was replaced by Mark Wood, who returned figures of 0-47 on his return from an ankle problem.
In truth, all the seamers struggled, with Chris Woakes uncharacteristically off colour in conceding 43 from four overs.
Moeen Ali bowled opener Reeza Hendricks in the third over of South Africa’s innings, but England could not repeat the feat achieved in their previous four games of taking at least three powerplay wickets – and subsequently the runs flowed.
Van der Dussen played a fine innings featuring a mix of clever ramps and powerful hitting as he and the powerful Markram hammered 71 runs from the final five overs.
England also conceded overthrows three times in two overs late on – a spell which summed up their evening.
England looked second favourites for much of the chase, the pursuit hampered by the loss of Roy and the departure of Jos Buttler, who hit to mid-off to depart for 26 and end a run of 198 runs without dismissal across three innings.
Moeen made 37 from 27 balls and Dawid Malan 33 from 26 but it took three consecutive sixes from Liam Livingstone off Rabada in the 16th over to breathe life into England’s hopes.
The first of his sixes went 112m, the largest of the tournament, but Livingstone holed out at long-off to fall for 28 before Rabada made sure of victory.
Woakes, who struck his first ball for six, found deep mid-wicket, captain Morgan hoisted to deep square-leg and Chris Jordan picked out long-off.
It was not the prettiest of hat-tricks, one that left Rabada grinning almost sheepishly.
Despite departing the World Cup on a high note, South Africa will rue a final-over defeat by Australia in their opening game, their only loss.