England face an anxious wait to discover whether Jason Roy will be able to participate in the rest of the T20 World Cup as their progress to the semi-finals was tempered by the opening batter’s calf injury.
While England suffered their first defeat of the campaign after going down by 10 runs to South Africa under the Sharjah lights, Eoin Morgan’s side finished top of group one in the Super 12s to progress to the knockout stages.
But Roy retired hurt in their ultimately forlorn pursuit of 190, collapsing to the turf in agony after hobbling to complete a single before being carried off the field, putting the remainder of his tournament in apparent jeopardy.
Morgan said: “It’s his calf. It obviously didn’t look great. We’ll wait until (Sunday) to see what his movement is like. Probably send him for a scan and then go from there.
“Obviously we’re all hopeful that he comes through in some manner or there’s some remedy to get him through one, if not two games. But we need to do what’s best for Jason ultimately and then the team.
Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Sam Curran were sidelined before England made the trip to the Gulf, while Tymal Mills’ right thigh strain in the previous game against Sri Lanka has precluded his involvement for the tournament.
England need no reminding of Roy’s worth to the team. He tore a hamstring in the group stages of the 2019 50-over World Cup group stage, missing defeats to Australia and Sri Lanka, but his return corresponded with an upturn in fortunes for the tournament hosts, who memorably went all the way.
Morgan said: “He’s unbelievably important. He’s a guy that epitomises everything that we are about in the changing room and the way that we play.
“You see how commanding he is at the top of the order, not only in T20 cricket but 50-over cricket as well. He’s as close as we get to surmising how the changing room should play.
“We’re gutted for Jase but also half hoping that he’s OK. For anybody to miss the latter stages of the tournament, particularly when it’s been two guys in two games, that does hurt the mood (of the dressing room).”
Rassie van der Dussen’s career-best 94 not out and a sparkling, unbeaten 52 off just 25 balls from Aiden Markram in a boundary-laden unbroken 103-run partnership underpinned what was an insurmountable 189 for two for the Proteas.
England got the equation down to 14 runs required off the last over but Kagiso Rabada’s hat-trick, with Morgan, Chris Woakes and Chris Jordan all succumbing to catches on the boundary, proved decisive.
However, while South Africa finished level on eight points alongside England and Australia, it was the old rivals who went through thanks to a superior net run rate. Morgan’s side reaching 106 guaranteed they were group winners.
Reflecting on a four-match winning streak coming to an end, Morgan said: “Some of the hardest matches of the tournament or tournaments that I’ve played in the past have been group stage games. It’s very difficult to qualify.
“We’re not going to be at our best every game but we do need to find ways to win. In the field we weren’t as intense as we have been in previous games, just small things we didn’t do as neatly as we would have liked.
“But a lot of teams finished having lost only one game and sides going through on net run rate really does show the strength within that particular group, so I’m very happy that we’re through to the semi-final.”
With Australia beating the West Indies handsomely earlier on in the day, South Africa came into this contest knowing they needed a big win and while they got the two points, it was not enough.
Captain Temba Bavuma said at the post-match presentation ceremony: “It’s a bit of a bittersweet ending for us. We achieved what we wanted to do in terms of winning the game but we didn’t win it well enough.
“There’s a lot we can be proud of as a team, as an inexperienced, young team winning four out of five. There’s a lot we can take from that.”
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