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South Africa holds off Bangladesh by 4 runs to stay unbeaten in T20 World Cup

WESTBURY, New York (AP) — Spinner Keshav Maharaj bowled a six-run, two-wicket final over and South Africa held off Bangladesh by four runs to stay unbeaten in the Twenty20 World Cup on Monday.

Bangladesh needed 11 from the last six deliveries to register a famous win, then needed a six off the last ball. Taskin Ahmed came to the crease after Bangladesh's seventh wicket, and faced the last ball, a full toss by Maharaj. Ahmed swung and managed only one run.

On a typically tough batting pitch at Nassau County Stadium, South Africa successfully defended its lowly total of 113-6 and restricted Bangladesh to 109-7.

It was the lowest target — 114 — ever defended in a T20 World Cup, trumping India's defense of 120 runs just the day before.

“That was not nice on the heart, but feels good that we got over the line,” said top-scorer Heinrich Klaasen, the player of the match. "This wicket is not great for stroke play. We got some information from the last game and applied it today. I think we got a decent total on the board.

“We have had three pressure games now and I think we are through (to the next round).”

Maharaj finished with 3-27 in four overs, while Kagiso Rabada (2-19) and Anrich Nortje (2-17) also bowled well.

South Africa firmed top spot in Group D with three from three and was in pole position to secure a Super Eight spot. Bangladesh's first loss in two matches kept it in second place.

South Africa chased down Sri Lanka and the Netherlands in its previous two matches at the ground, and was made to bat first this time.

But it still fumbled another start. Pace bowler Tanzim Sakib trapped opener Reeza Hendricks for a golden duck and had Tristan Stubbs caught for a five-ball duck.

Aiden Markram was bowled for 4. In between, Sakib bowled Quinton de Kock for 18 as the Proteas slumped to 23-4 in 4.2 overs.

David Miller came up with another rescue job after his half-century against the Netherlands. He scored 29 off 38 balls and put on 79 runs for the fifth wicket with Klaasen.

Klaasen top-scored with 46 off 44, including two fours and three sixes. The duo pushed South Africa past 100 before falling in the space of six deliveries.

The late strikes left South Africa hanging at just about a par total.

Bangladesh’s chase faltered at the start, too. It was down to 37-3 and then 50-4 at the halfway stage.

Nortje dismissed skipper Nazmul Shanto for 14, and sent back Shakib Al Hasan for just 3, picking up his eighth wicket in three games.

Litton Das was out caught off Maharaj, while Rabada had Tanzid Hasan caught behind for 9.

Towhid Hridoy and Mahmudullah put on 44 off 45 balls to bring Bangladesh back on track.

At 94-4 in the 18th over, Bangladesh was in the driver’s seat then lost wickets rapidly to spiral out of control. It went from 94-4 to 108-7 in the space of 17 deliveries.

Rabada returned to trap Hridoy but Maharaj's left-arm spin turned the game in the final over.

South Africa completes the group stage against Nepal on Friday. Bangladesh has the Netherlands on Thursday.

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AP cricket: https://apnews.com/hub/cricket