Australia’s Twenty20 World Cup semi-final hopes no longer rest solely in their own hands after South Africa threw down the gauntlet, boosting their net run-rate by belting Bangladesh.
The Proteas bundled out Bangladesh for 84 in Abu Dhabi then cruised to a six-wicket win in 13.3 overs.
It means there is now a net run-rate (NRR) gap of 1.369 between South Africa and Australia, who risk paying a big price for their lopsided loss to England.
Aaron Finch’s side will finish above South Africa if they can defeat Bangladesh and West Indies this week, while the Proteas lose to England on Sunday morning (AEDT).
But if Australia only bank one victory from their final two pool games then the semi-final berth could come down to NRR; likewise if they win both matches but South Africa topple the tournament favourites.
Star paceman Kagiso Rabada admitted the bigger picture was on his side’s radar as they handed injury-hit Bangladesh a fourth consecutive loss, eliminating them from contention.
“Obviously that was the chat. We tried to finish the game as early as possible,” Rabada said after claiming 3-20 and player-of-the-match honours.
“In saying that, we just try to keep it really as simple as possible.
“But yeah, there was a clear instruction that we should try to finish the game — there was a clear instruction that we needed to try and finish the game before 15, and we did that.”
The Proteas have been on a roll since losing their tournament-opener against Australia, weathering the storm surrounding Quinton de Kock’s initial refusal to take a knee and quick return.
“We will regroup and then strategise for England,” Rabada said.
“We can take confidence out of our team performances, as a collective, heading into the England game. We know it’s going to be a very tough game.”
England have all but secured top spot in the group.
Fast bowlers Anrich Nortje and Rabada shared six cheap wickets, then their batsmen survived Taskin Ahmed’s twin early strikes as captain Temba Bavuma’s unbeaten knock of 31 carried them home.
Once victory was assured they finished in a hurry, taking 19 off the last nine balls.
Bangladesh, who are without injured star allrounder Shakib Al Hasan, complete their campaign against Australia on Thursday.
“The wicket was pretty good to bowl on in the first half,” Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah said.
“We weren’t good enough in the middle, that was a poor batting display.
“It’s frustrating, but we could have won two games (against West Indies and Sri Lanka), if we had won those games, it would have been a different story.”