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South Africa beats US, England defeats West Indies in Super Eight playoffs at the T20 World Cup

NORTH SOUND, Antigua (AP) — South Africa had to work hard to earn an 18-run win over the fast-improving United States in the opening game of the Super Eight at the Twenty20 World Cup on Wednesday.

Co-host the West Indies also lost it first match in the Super Eight stage Wednesday, beaten by eight wickets by defending champion England. Jack Salt scored 87 runs to lead England.

Andries Gous made an unbeaten 80 off 47 balls for the U.S. — against the country of his birth — to move atop the batting charts at the World Cup before South Africa restricted the Americans at 176-6.

Fast bowler Kagiso Rabada claimed 3-18 and spinner Keshav Maharaj got the prized wicket of U.S. captain Aaron Jones for a duck — no runs — to finish with 1-24.

Quinton de Kock had earlier made a rampant 74 off 40 balls and Heinrich Klaasen provided the perfect finish with 36 not out in the South African total of 194-4 after Jones won the toss and elected to field.

“Pretty happy with the performance as a whole," South Africa captain Aiden Markram said. “A couple of overs here and there we need to tidy up … but the wicket definitely changes and gets a bit slower."

De Kock and Markram (46 off 32 balls) dominated both spinners and the pacers as they raised a solid 110-run stand after Saurabh Netravalkar (2-21) had provided the early breakthrough by getting the wicket of Reeza Hendricks in his second over.

“We’ve had some tricky wickets so it was nice to spend sometime in the middle today,” de Kock said. “The USA put us under pressure towards the end. It was a great game.”

Netravalkar, who bowled a sensational Super Over in the United States’ historic win over heavyweights Pakistan in the group stage, struck immediately in his return spell when Markram was brilliantly caught by diving Ali Khan at deep backward point off a full pitched ball.

But Klaasen used all his T20 experience in the last five overs and struck three sixes while Tristan Stubbs also hit two fours in his 16-ball unbeaten 20 which lifted the South Africa total.

“Hard to take a defeat after coming so close,” Jones said. “We did lack discipline in the bowling at times, (but) once we play good cricket we can beat any team in the world. We need to be a lot more disciplined.”

England beats the West Indies

At Gros Islet, St Lucia, Salt carried his bat for 87 and Jonny Bairstow made an unbeaten 48 as defending champion England beat the West Indies by eight wickets in a match between two-time World Cup champions.

It was the West Indies’ first loss of the tournament and their first defeat in eight Twenty20 internationals.

The West Indies made 180-4 batting first on the same pitch on which they made 218-5 against Afghanistan in the final match of the group stage on Monday.

The fireworks came at the end and from England as Salt made his 87 runs from 47 balls with seven fours and five sixes and Bairstow added his 48 from 26 deliveries. England reached 181-2 with 15 balls to spare.

Salt provided a solid foundation for the England run chase, initially in a 67-run opening partnership with Jos Buttler.

Salt scored 30 runs — three sixes and three fours — from the 16th over bowled by Romario Shepherd.

“I’m not looking too far ahead at the minute, just glad that I could contribute to a good team win,” Salt said. “It was a little bit tougher in the middle overs with the spin."

The pitch may have been a little slower than on Monday but England captain Buttler also used his bowlers well and the West Indies innings included 50 dot balls.

A capacity crowd in the first night match of the Super Eight stage was out to party but the match really didn’t come alive until the end.

The West Indies started well but were disrupted in the six-over power play by the loss of Brandon King who retired hurt after 4.3 overs with a side or groin strain. King had just hit the first six of the match, a 103-meter (338-foot) blow that flew over the grandstand and out of the stadium.

He made 23 from 13 balls and was setting the early pace of the innings when he was forced to retire with the West Indies at 40-0. There was no immediate word on the seriousness of King's injury.

“Credit has to be given to the England bowling unit. You can see they had clear plans and executed them well,” West Indies captain Rovman Powell said.

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

The Associated Press