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Proteas loss leaves England in precarious World Cup position

South Africa defeat England at the Cricket World Cup
South Africa’s Henrich Klaasen hit a match-winning ton against England in their World Cup victory on Saturday. Picture: ICC

South Africa clinched a commanding 229-run victory over England in Saturday’s Cricket World Cup match, leaving the defending champions on the brink of elimination after suffering their third loss in four games.

England can not afford to drop any more group matches and have slumped to $26 to win the World Cup. In contrast, the Proteas’ odds of winning the World Cup have been trimmed into $5.50 with cricket betting sites after their stronger than expected performance in India.

England had previously been defeated by New Zealand and, most shockingly, Afghanistan. In stark contrast, South Africa rebounded from their unexpected loss to the Netherlands on Tuesday, posting an impressive 399-7 after being put into bat in the sweltering Mumbai conditions. Heinrich Klaasen smashed a 61-ball century, scoring 109, while Marco Jansen contributed an unbeaten 75 off 42 balls.

England’s reply was dismal, plummeting to 38-4 after 8.1 overs and eventually being all out for 170 in just 22 overs. Klaasen and Jansen’s partnership yielded 151 runs, contributing to South Africa’s second-highest total of the tournament. The team also scored the Cricket World Cup’s highest total, 428-5, against Sri Lanka in Delhi.

This crushing defeat left England with the dubious distinction of having conceded its highest total in ODIs and suffering its heaviest ODI defeat by runs, with 28 overs to spare.

Klaasen’s century marked his first in a World Cup and fourth overall, making it the second-quickest hundred of the tournament after teammate Aiden Markram’s record-breaking 49-ball century against Sri Lanka.

The result solidifies South Africa’s third-place standing with six points, while England languishes in ninth place, tied with Afghanistan at two points.

Klaasen, named player of the match, reflected on the team’s performance, which has been gradually improving as more players get experience on the sub-continent, including via the Indian Premier League.

“We have been playing in India for quite a few years now, so we are used to the conditions. We had a good practice session here before the game and knew how to use the shorter boundaries,” he said.

Klaasen also shared his pride in representing his country and said the huge upset against the Netherlands had results in some sou searching among the squad.

“Losing to the Netherlands was a big low for us. You have to dig deep after a loss like that, and playing for my country is an honour,” he said.

“I have worked my whole life towards it and it is a great moment.”

South Africa’s innings was buoyed by Reeza Hendricks, who stepped in for the ill Temba Bavuma, scoring 85 off 75 balls. He shared a 121-run partnership with Rassie van der Dussen, who contributed 60 off 61 balls. Adil Rashid briefly stemmed the tide for England, taking the wickets of Van der Dussen and Hendricks.

England’s chase of 400 was over almost before it began, with Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, and Joe Root all falling cheaply. Ben Stokes, returning from injury, was caught by Kagiso Rabada, and England was reeling at 68-6. Gerald Coetzee claimed three wickets for the Proteas, and Mark Wood’s 43 not out was the top score for England.

Skipper Jos Buttler was somber in defeat, with tough clashes against Sri Lanka (on Thursday) and India to come.

“This loss leaves us in a tough position. There is no room from here on. It is going to be incredibly difficult (to qualify for the semifinals). We haven’t left ourselves any margin, but we have belief,” he said.

The Proteas will next clash with Bangladesh on Tuesday, a match they are $1.25 favourite to win, with the outsiders at $4 with online bookmakers.

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