Du Plessis banned as England chase T20 Cup glory

England's Alex Hales
England's Alex Hales
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South Africa have been hit by the suspension of captain Faf du Plessis for today’s must-win match against England, whose captain, Stuart Broad, has also been fined for the second time at the World Twenty20, losing 40 per cent of his match fee for a slow over rate in the win over Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s Dinesh Chandimal will also miss their match against New Zealand on Monday after being found guilty by the International Cricket Council for his side’s slow over-rate.

Du Plessis was penalised for not getting his team through their allocation in the required time against Holland, an offence which carries a fine in the first instance and, as in this case, a one-game ban in the second.

Both South Africa and Sri Lanka, who lost to England, were judged to have fallen short by one over on Thursday.

The International Cricket Council found England to be two overs behind the target when time allowances were applied, leading to an automatic penalty.

As captain, Broad was hit with double the fine of his 10 team-mates, having already lost 15 per cent of his previous fee for criticising umpires in the Duckworth/Lewis defeat to New Zealand.

Broad will also be suspended should he reoffend on over rate – another instance inside a year would see him miss a match.

Broad believes his side can become unlikely challengers after throwing off the shackles in the thrilling win over Sri Lanka.

It may seem premature for Broad to be publicly pondering such things, with England still needing to beat South Africa today to avoid an early exit, but the brevity of the competition means trophy-winning momentum can be pieced together in a matter of days.

Now, having overturned the world’s No 1 T20 side in some style – Alex Hales playing the innings of the tournament as he clubbed an unbeaten 116 off 64 balls – England are starting to seem like less fanciful contenders.

They have previous form as underdog champions, winning the 2010 edition after arriving in the Caribbean widely unfancied and, although a repeat performance in Bangladesh is still some way off, Broad is optimistic.

“T20 is a momentum game and the innings we chased against Sri Lanka was one of the best I’ve ever witnessed,” he said.

“The confidence and belief we will get from that going into our final two group games is going to be huge. It’s in our hands a little bit now.

“If we had lost against Sri Lanka we were pretty much out of the World Cup. With that sort of pressure, it’s exciting to see players come through that.

“We have got two group games left and we’re very confident we can do well in those.

“We know what these tournaments are like, if you can get on a run, if you can get a few guys going you can win these tournaments and it’s not out of our grasp.”

Asked if England were finally ready to turn a corner and put a miserable few months behind them, Broad said: “Touch wood... we’ve got to be getting there haven’t we?” he said. “We have had a couple of things go against us. Mother Cricket has not looked after us particularly well over this winter.”

If they are to complete their unlikely swing in fortunes, England cannot afford to sit back and rely on a Hales storm every time.

Even that may not be enough next time if they do not knuckle down and improve their performance in the field.

A total of four chances went down in Sri Lanka’s innings of 189-4, with a botched run out by Jos Buttler adding to an unusually ragged showing from the boys in the ‘solar red’ shirts.

There is also room for improvement in the bowling ranks, where Tim Bresnan and Broad have yet to hit top gear. “Our batting is obviously firing but we need to up the standard of our fielding,” the captain admitted. “Our fielding has been our strong point in the last three weeks, we have been awesome, so to miss chances against key men hurt us.

“We could have easily restricted Sri Lanka to 150 on that wicket: we could have done, but we didn’t.

“If we take our catches we will stand ourselves in a much better chance on Saturday.”

Broad chose not to blame the sloppy catching, for which Bresnan, Jade Dernbach and Ravi Bopara were all culpable, on the wet ball.

Evening matches in Chittagong have been badly affected by dew, making the ball hard to grip for bowlers and tricky to cling onto in the field. Even Sri Lankan veteran Mahela Jayawardene shelled Hales on the boundary as the ball slipped through his grasp.

But Broad, searching perhaps for one too many positives, insists England’s struggles in those conditions leave them better equipped than the Proteas, who have yet to play a late match.

“We have got the advantage of having played a few games under the lights here. Conditions are extremely different from anything we’ve had before and South Africa haven’t played under the lights yet in this tournament. We’ve got the experience of that. It can give us a little bit of an edge if we use it wisely.”