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Faisal KAMAL

South Africa in control after India win, Pakistan keep hopes flickering

South Africa's David Miller plays a shot against India. ©AFP

Perth (Australia) (AFP) - South Africa took control of Group 2 at the T20 World Cup on Sunday with a nervy win over India after Pakistan kept their faint semi-final hopes alive with their first win of the tournament in Australia.

Bangladesh got their challenge back on track and moved level on points with India by holding off Zimbabwe in a thriller to leave Group 2 in the balance with five teams separated by three points with two games to play.

David Miller and Aiden Markram both hit half-centuries to lead South Africa to a five-wicket win with two balls to spare after the Proteas' fast bowlers, led by Lungi Ngidi who took 4-29, restricted India to an under-par 133-9 on a lively Perth pitch.

Miller, who scored 59 not out, and Markram, who made 52, put on 76 after the side's top order fell cheaply as they made hard work of what looked like a routine chase.

"Fortunately we got the momentum we needed," said captain Temba Bavuma of his middle-order pair. 

"We came into the tournament as non-favourites and we will keep flying under the radar," he added with his side unbeaten after three matches."We will keep improving and that's what we are doing."

India's attack made early inroads with left-arm quick Arshdeep Singh striking twice in three balls. 

First he removed Quinton de Kock, caught by KL Rahul for one, then two balls later had Rilee Rossouw, who made a century in the previous match against Bangladesh, lbw for nought.

Markram and Miller steadied the innings from 24-3, crawling to 40-3 at the halfway mark.

The pair then went after off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who was left crestfallen when the normally safe hands of Virat Kohli at deep midwicket dropped a routine chance from Markram when he was on 35.

'Match-winning partnership'

India dragged the game to the final over where, needing six to win, Miller finished in style with two fours to round off an unbeaten 46-ball innings. 

"We expected the pitch to have something in it," said India captain Rohit Sharma, "which is why you saw that 130 was not an easy chase.I thought we fought well till the end but South Africa played well. 

"It was a match-winning partnership from Miller and Markram.But we were not good enough on the field."

Earlier Ngidi led a fiery pace onslaught after India chose to bat with only Yadav, with a 40-ball 68, standing firm after India slumped to 49-5.

Ngidi was ably supported by fellow fast bowler Wayne Parnell who finished with 3-15 after starting the innings with a T20 rarity -- a maiden over.

Pakistan hammered the Netherlands by six wickets in Perth, reaching their target of 92 off just 13.5 overs, but they still lie fifth in Group 2 on two points, three points behind leaders South Africa, two behind India and Bangladesh and one behind Zimbabwe.

Pakistan restricted the Dutch to 91-9 and then cruised to 95-4 with Mohammad Rizwan making 49.

Pakistan need to win their remaining matches against South Africa on Thursday and Bangladesh in a week's time, and need other results to go their way, to have any chance of securing a semi-final place.

"Very happy.Performed very well in the bowling and in the batting," said Pakistan captain Babar Azam."A win always gives you confidence."

Man of the match Shadab Khan took 3-22 as Pakistan dominated a Dutch side who are now out of the semi-final running after a third straight defeat.

"I have bowled against a few of their players in county cricket, so I know how they play," said Shadab.

Last-ball drama

Earlier in Brisbane, Bangladesh secured a dramatic last-ball win over Zimbabwe, aided by opener Najmul Shanto's maiden half-century and Taskin Ahmed's three wickets.

Shanto's 71 helped steer Bangladesh to 150-7 in a match that went to the wire with Zimbabwe needing 16 off a last over that turned into an incredible finale.

Two wickets fell, a big six was hit before the teams walked off thinking the match was over, only to be called back on the field.

Bangladesh believed they had won when Blessing Muzarabani, needing five to win, was stumped off the last ball.

A review showed wicketkeeper Nurul Hasan had taken the ball in front of the stumps, which is illegal, and therefore a no-ball. 

The teams had to return to the field for a free hit with four needed to win, but Muzarabani missed again leaving Zimbabwe short on 147-8.

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