YORKSHIRE’S Joe Root believes England’s sensational run-chase against South Africa can inspire them for the rest of the World Twenty20.
Root’s 44-ball 83 was the game’s decisive contribution as England reeled in 230 in Mumbai – the second-highest pursuit in the history of the format.
Few could have expected the Three Lions to add 40 runs to their previous highest successful chase but, spurred on by a freewheeling 43 from opener Jason Roy, they did just that to claim a two-wicket win.
Defeat would have pushed them perilously close to the exit door, but now Root says the squad will be full of positive energy.
“It’s a massive result and it’s filling us with confidence now,” said Root.
“At the halfway stage we were up against it but the fact we can pull performances like that out with the bat will give us a lot of confidence going in to the rest of the group stage and hopefully further on as well.
“To do something like that in a World Cup is very special for me personally. There’s no better feeling than winning a game of cricket when you’re up against it.
“More than anything I can’t wait to get back in the dressing room and celebrate with the boys.”
Despite the formidable nature of the target, Root claims England never felt out of the game.
Instead, having seen Chris Gayle tear them apart with a 47-ball century in their previous outing at the Wankhede Stadium, they saw an opportunity to make their mark on the tournament.
“You’ve always got a chance in this format of the game, especially with the performers we’ve got in that dressing room,” he said.
“Chris’s innings showed us anything is possible in these conditions on a wicket like that.
“Eoin Morgan just said ‘go out and play, keep believing we can do something special’.
“Thankfully it all came off and we got across the line. This is a talented group of players who are capable of doing special things. We’ve proved that and now it’s about being consistent for the rest of the competition.”
England had watched Quinton de Kock (52and), Hashim Amla (58) and JP Duminy (54no) pile on rapid-fire runs and came out inspired rather than intimidated.
Roy batted with frantic brilliance, hitting half of his 16 deliveries to or beyond the boundary.
Hales was dropped first ball off Dale Steyn but still managed four boundaries as the world’s No 1 bowler disappeared for 23.
The numbers were incredible: 44 off two overs, 65 from four, 89 from six, outgunning what had come before.
But England were losing wickets too. Roy ramped Kyle Abbott for six then lobbed a catch attempting a repeat, Hales was pinned lbw on the crease by the same bowler and Ben Stokes – promoted to No 3 – plonked a Kagiso Rabada full toss straight to Chris Morris in the deep.
It was a thrilling spectacle and delighted the crowd.
South Africa halted things with spin, Duminy and Imran Tahir sharing four overs for 29, with the latter also persuading Eoin Morgan to drag one into his stumps.
That brought together Root and Jos Buttler, and the pair added 75 in six overs that tilted the momentum. Root swatted Duminy for six, guided Morris over third man then helped take 12 more off Steyn’s second over.
He saved the best for Morris, reverse flicking the all-rounder for six more with brilliant timing.
Buttler added 21 from 14 balls but was stumped off Tahir, despite De Kock’s late fumble.
England required 42 from the last five overs and Root took 10 off Abbott’s next two balls, a neat flick for four and a clean hit down the ground.
Morris could not keep Root quiet, leaking four more boundaries in the 18th, but the Yorkshireman fell just before the line.
It took a Rabada full toss, heaved into the deep, to get him but he had a long pep talk with Moeen as he left.
The scores were tied with one Abbott over to go but Chris Jordan and Yorkshire’s David Willey fell to consecutive balls, the latter run out. Moeen ended the drama by driving one past mid-off and punched the air to seal the end of a wonderful contest.
Earlier, after Willey’s first over cost just two, De Kock stroked a Reece Topley loosener for six over point and South Africa never looked back. That over cost 15 and Willey’s next shipped 20 as De Kock battered two sixes and two fours from gentle offerings.
Moeen saw two of his first three balls hit the ropes but drew a mis-hit from Amla with his fourth. Topley flapped at the chance and grassed it.
It was a drop that cost 49 as Amla made hay and South Africa had 50 off just four overs before Jordan served up a selection of half-volleys and leg-side lollipops.
Relief finally came when De Kock dragged Moeen straight to Hales on the ropes, and continued when an ominous-looking AB de Villiers played for an Adil Rashid googly that never came.
South Africa reached 193-4 by the 18th over before Duminy and David Miller (28no off 12) smashed the chosen death bowlers – Topley and Jordan – for 18 apiece to close the innings.