England's defeat to South Africa in the final Group 1 game of the tournament saw their bowling weaknesses exposed and Jason Roy limp off with an injury. Earlier, Australia beat West Indies in a win that ultimately sealed their top-four spot. Here are the big talking points from Day 21 of the tournament.
ENGLAND v SOUTH AFRICA
England’s weakness exposed
England’s run to number one in the ICC T20I World Rankings was partly built on a bowling attack that had Jofra Archer excelling in the Powerplay and the death overs, and with all-rounders Sam Curran and Ben Stokes proving relatively effective as additional options.
But all three of those players are absent through injury, as is Tymal Mills, leaving England very exposed with the ball.
Prior to South Africa, no team had been able to get at England’s vulnerable attack, as wickets had tumbled early on, primarily to Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali. But South Africa lost just one wicket to the pair through the Powerplay, giving them the platform to go after England in the middle overs. And that’s exactly what they did.
Woakes may be effective with the swinging ball up top, but he’s hittable later in the innings, and was smashed to all parts by Russie van der Dussen and Aiden Markram.
And Mark Wood’s express pace can also prove highly expensive in such a scenario, with the fit-again quick returning eye-watering figures of 0/47 off his four overs.
England never felt in control with the ball, and their potential semi-final opponents will have been watching.
Under the radar no more
Rassie van der Dussen has quietly developed into a high-quality T20 international player.
But his rise is no secret anymore, after a thrilling unbeaten 94 that had England’s bowlers struggling for answers.
The 32-year-old South African was a latecomer to international cricket, making his debut in 2018. But he’s making up for lost time now, with Saturday’s knock taking him close to 1000 runs in the short format at an average of 38.87.
Those are numbers that should make everyone sit up and take notice, and the right-hander should be a key part of that South African batting line-up when they head to the next ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in a year’s time.
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Roy injury causes England headaches
Jason Roy will have a scan on his calf injury to learn the extent of the damage, but initial impressions are that the opening batter could be out of the tournament.
That is not good news at all for England, who would be forced into a reshuffle for the semi-finals.
Jonny Bairstow could move up to open, although his role at four has been a strength of England’s of late. The whole order could move up one, with Dawid Malan in alongside Jos Buttler at the top of the order. Or England could opt to promote Moeen Ali, with the all-rounder showing his suitability for a role up the order with his 37 against South Africa at number three, as well as his recent run in that position for Chennai Super Kings.
Sam Billings would be the player most likely to come into the side in place of Roy with the bat, although England could opt to change the balance of their team and add an additional bowler in Tom Curran.
It’s a conundrum Eoin Morgan did not want to have at this stage.
AUSTRALIA v WEST INDIES
Bravo bows out
It wasn’t the fairytale finale for Dwayne Bravo in a West Indies shirt, but the legendary all-rounder was given the send-off he deserved from his fellow players in Abu Dhabi.
A two-time T20 World Cup winner, Bravo has played 90 T20Is for the Caribbean outfit, taking 78 wickets and scoring more than 1000 runs.
But it’s not just the numbers that sum up Bravo’s impact. A T20 trend-setter throughout his career, Bravo has been one of the format's finest exponents of the slower ball and excelled at the death with both bat and ball.
And in 2012 he was the man to take the winning catch when West Indies won the T20 World Cup for the first time.
DJ Bravo, you will be missed.
When the approach works
Australia’s T20I formula isn’t the most revolutionary, but when it works it is extremely effective. And this was one of those days.
The fine seam attack of Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins did the damage up top, exploiting that early movement to leave West Indies three down in the Powerplay. And when those early wickets do come then it brings spinner Adam Zampa even more into the game in the middle overs.
And with the bat, if the top three fire then Australia can chase pretty much anything. So it will be a huge boost to see David Warner hit himself back into form with 89* off just 56.
Australia are still not favourites to win this tournament. But on this sort of form they have the quality to beat any of their possible opponents in the final four.
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Gayle keeps fans guessing
That may have been the last time we see Chris Gayle at a World Cup. It may have been the last time that we see Chris Gayle in West Indies colours.
But the big man kept the fans guessing as he seemed to bid farewell but stopped short of confirming his international retirement.
In a wide-ranging interview on ICC's post-match Facebook live show, Gayle clarified he had not made a decision to retire but that the end of his international career was coming.
If this is the end of Gayle's career, it will likely be his impact on the sport's newest international format that he is most remembered for.
A two-time winner of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup, in 2012 and 2016, Gayle was fittingly the first player to score a century in the format at the international level, doing so in the first-ever T20 World Cup match.
And as well as helping West Indies to two World Cup titles in the format, he has also been a dominant force in franchise leagues around the world, scoring more T20 runs than anyone else (14,321) and hitting a record 22 T20 centuries, 14 more than any other player.
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