Barbados: Kevin Pietersen laid the platform for a commanding 39-run victory over his native South Africa as England took a giant stride towards the World Twenty20 semi-finals on Saturday. Man-of-the-match Pietersen's high-class 53 was at the heart of England's 168 for seven against the land of his birth at the Kensington Oval.
Victory left England with two wins from two second round matches after Pietersen made an unbeaten 73 in a six-wicket win over defending champions Pakistan on Thursday. However, it is possible for three of the four sides in a pool that also features New Zealand to end the second round, which concludes for Group E teams in St Lucia on Monday, with two wins each.
If that is the case, net run-rate will decide which two teams go through to the last four.But if Pakistan beat South Africa, England will be in the semi-finals before their match against New Zealand.
South Africa suffered a dramatic top-order collapse against England spinners Graeme Swann (three wickets for 24 runs) and Michael Yardy (two for 26). The Proteas lost four wickets for 19 runs as 34 for one was transformed into 53 for five.
JP Duminy, the only batsman in the innings to score more than 19, made 39 but by that stage the game was all but beyond South Africa's grasp. He became one of a trio of wickets for Ryan Sidebottom (three for 23), who ended the match with an over to spare by bowling Morne Morkel as South Africa were dismissed for 129.
South Africa's slump against spin started when Herschelle Gibbs, on eight, top-edged a sweep off left-armer Yardy's first ball and was brilliantly caught by a diving Sidebottom, running back at short fine leg.
Proteas captain Graeme Smith then holed out when his slog-sweep off Swann was caught in the deep by Michael Lumb.
Albie Morkel, who'd hammered 40 off just 18 balls in South Africa's 13-run win over New Zealand here on Thursday, was out for a duck after a Yardy delivery turned past the outside edge and clipped the top of off-stump.
AB de Villiers did not last long either before skying Swann to England captain Paul Collingwood at midwicket.
Earlier, Pietersen shared a stand of 94 in just under 12 overs with fellow South Africa born batsman Craig Kieswetter, who made 41, after Collingwood won the toss. The pair relished the pace of fast bowlers Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, whose combined eight overs cost a hugely expensive 90 runs.
Steyn, arguably the world's leading quick, was treated with disdain in a four-over spell that went for an extraordinary 50 runs. Pietersen struck a huge six over long-on off Steyn and then casually advanced down the pitch to drive him for four.
But former South Africa Under-19 wicketkeeper Kieswetter had made just seven when he guided Morne Morkel straight to third man only for the Proteas' joy to be cut short because the delivery was a no-ball.
It may not have been as expensive as the 'wicket' Morne Morkel took in the first round, when India's Suresh Raina was on five before going on to complete a hundred, but it was an expensive mistake nonetheless.
Pietersen's 33-ball innings, which featured a six and eight fours, ended when he top-edged an attempted sweep against off-spinner Johan Botha, who took an impressive two for 15.