De Kock takes knee as South Africa beats Sri Lanka at WCup

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South Africa’s David Miller, right, celebrates with teammate Kagiso Rabada after defeating Sri Lanka in their Cricket Twenty20 World Cup match in Sharjah, UAE, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Quinton de Kock took a knee at the start and David Miller took charge at the end as South Africa beat Sri Lanka by four wickets with a ball to spare in the T20 World Cup on Saturday.

Miller hit two sixes in the last over as South Africa shrugged off a hat trick from Wanindu Hasaranga, which left it struggling on 112-6 in the 18th over, to clinch a second victory in the Super 12 stage that keeps it in contention for the semifinals.

The 32-year-old Miller launched his late attack with support from Kagiso Rabada to take his side beyond the target of 143.

Miller finished with 23 from 13 balls and South Africa ended up smiling after a week of turmoil following de Kock’s decision to withdraw from Tuesday’s game against West Indies in protest at players being told by the South African cricket board to take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

De Kock returned to the team on Saturday after apologizing, and removed his cap and took a knee alongside all the other players on the field ahead of the start. He made 12 opening the batting.

“It’s quite hard to put everything that’s happened over the last couple of days behind us,” South Africa captain Temba Bavuma said. “There was a bit of it at the back of the mind but we had a job to do and we had to dig deep.

“I was a bit tense but I had confidence in David. He’s got one of the most beautiful swings, like a golf swing.”

Miller’s swinging sixes off the second and third balls of Lahiru Kumara’s final over flew into the stands in Sharjah, and settled it after South Africa needed 15 off the last six balls. Tailender Rabada played his role, too, with a six in the penultimate over and the winning runs from an edge past the wicketkeeper for four. He finished with 13 from seven balls.

“It was enough to defend for Lahiru,” Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka said of the last over. “Credit to South Africa’s batsmen, they finished really well.

“It’s really hard for us after this game,” he added, with Sri Lanka now in a battle to claim one of the two semifinal places from the group.

Spinner Tabraiz Shamsi and seamer Dwaine Pretorius both took 3-17 after South Africa put Shanaka’s team in to bat. But Sri Lanka’s 142 all out in 20 overs, set up by opener Pathum Nissanka’s brilliant 72 from 58 balls, was highly competitive.

It seemed like a winning total when legspinner Hasaranga removed Bavuma (46) and Pretorius in consecutive balls in the 18th over, having removed Aiden Markram off the final ball of his previous spell.

South Africa needed 22 from nine balls when Rabada kicked off the late rally with his six back down the ground.

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