Little hope for Proteas
South Africa's hopes of silverware at the ICC World Twenty20 were left hanging by a thread after they were thumped by Australia in their penultimate Super Eight fixture here yesterday.
After suffering an eight-wicket defeat against the Aussies, South Africa were left winless after two Super Eight matches and contemplating an early exit until they received a glimmer of hope from India late last night.
The Indians, led by a superb unbeaten 78 from Virat Kohli, whipped Pakistan by eight wickets to keep South Africa's slim hopes of survival alive.
All four sides have a chance of qualifying for the semi-finals when the group goes into its final round tomorrow with Australia in pole position on four points.
For South Africa to advance, they now have to beat their saviours India in the late match tomorrow and Australia will have to edge Pakistan in the early game.
It would then still come down to net run-rates between South Africa, India and Pakistan, who would then all be equal on two points.
If Pakistan beat Australia in the first match, South Africa will be on a flight home, no matter what happens against India.
South Africa looked a jaded side yesterday and will need a serious injection of energy if they are to have any chance of progressing.
Shane Watson was once again the star performer for Australia as he carried his side with both bat and ball.
He first dismissed Hashim Amla (17) and AB de Villiers (21) while taking 2/24 to help limit the Proteas to 146/5.
He then dominated the South African attack, smashing 70 off only 47 balls with two sixes and eight fours to see his side to the brink of victory.
The right-hander was well-supported by Michael Hussey, who weighed in with an unbeaten 45.
Cameron White was also there at the end on 21 as Australia raced home with a comfortable 14 balls to spare.
South Africa were once again poor in the batting powerplay, losing Richard Levi (0), Jacques Kallis (6) and Amla for 33 runs during those initial six overs.
Apart from an unbeaten half century against minnows Zimbabwe, Levi has looked badly out of sorts and was cleaned up with ease by Aussie left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty, who claimed 3/20 to extend South Africa's misery against the turning ball in this tournament.
Robbie Peterson gave the innings some much-needed momentum at the death, finding the boundary six times in his unbeaten 32 off 19 deliveries.
Farhaan Behardien was too slow to start off with and ended up making 31 not out off 27 balls, while JP Duminy added 30.
Captain De Villiers had no answers for his team's dismal showing but hinted at changes for tomorrow's game.
"It's hard to put my finger on it. We started badly and finished badly as well so there's a bit of a bad taste in mouth at the moment.
"We didn't bat well in the first six. We lost three wickets again and it was hard to get momentum from there on in," said De Villiers.
"So it was a disappointing night altogether.
"We've got a lot to think about and we will obviously have to lift it big time come Tuesday.
"I wouldn't say we choked tonight. We were just pretty much outplayed. We tried to come back and we weren't good enough."
"We have to try a few other combinations.
"We know we have to beat India convincingly if we want to have a chance.
"It's not over yet; we are not the kind of team that will give up."