Stand-in skipper AB de Villiers knocked the stuffing out of England attack with a blistering 28-ball 69 before the bowlers chipped in with useful
contributions to propel South Africa to a three-run win and a semifinal berth at the ICC World T20 in Chittagong on Saturday.
Asked to bat, South Africa rode on de Villiers' unbeaten knock and Hashim Amla's 37-ball 56 to post a commanding 196 for five, before Wayne Parnell (3-31) and Imran Tahir (2-27) restricted England to 193 for seven in a last-over finish at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium.
South Africa's was this edition's highest total. This was their third win in four attempts while England suffered their second defeat in three outings to be eliminated.
Chasing a daunting total, England started as well as they could could, racing away to 46 within no time before Michael Lumb (18) was taken care of by Parnell, playing in his first match of the tournament, in the fifth over.
Last match's centurion hero, Alex Hales looked in the mood as he hit his way to a 22-ball 38 before Parnell struck again. Aiding the left-arm pacer on both occasions was David Miller, who pulled off two fine catches. The first one was a low catch diving to his left at extra cover while the second
was also a solid effort as Miller came running in from deep cover.
Moeen Ali, who had earlier dropped de Villiers in the last over of South Africa innings, capped off a rather disappointing outing when Parnell trapped in front of the wicket for 10, giving the bowler his third wicket.
Jos, after his easy stumping miss against Hashim Amla earlier in the day, tried to make up for that lapse by keeping England in the hunt with a few effective blows.
But after he raced to 34 off 24 balls with the help of two fours and a six, leg-spinner Imran Tahir dealt the opposition a big blow by removing Buttler, whose reverse sweep failed to clear backward point. This was Tahir's second wicket, after sending back Eoin Morgan for 14.
After Buttler got out, England needed 66 runs off 32 balls, and it became increasingly difficult as the innings progressed.
Ravi Bopara made 31 runs off 18 balls, but the asking rate proved a bit too much for him in the end. He hit three quick boundaries before launching into Beuran Hendricks for six over the long-off fence.
Needing 22 off the final over, Dale Steyn came back to dismiss Bopara with the second ball and end England's hopes.
Earlier, stepping in for the suspended Faf du Plessis, De Villiers came to the party after experienced opener Hashim Amla laid the foundation.
De Villiers smashed nine fours and three sixes while Amla hit fours fours and two maximums. England won the toss and opted to bowl, keeping in mind the dew factor later on, but South Africa seemed unperturbed by all this. Amla made use of a chance offered by English wicketkeeper Buttler in the third over, going on to play a well-compiled knock that set the tone for South Africa's daunting total.
Amla went down the wicket, failed to connect, but to his fortune, Buttler missed what was a sitter. Amla's response next ball was a six as he danced down the wicket to whip one off Moeen Ali over wide long-on.
Before that, the South African powerfully flicked Jade Dernbach into the stands for a maximum over over square leg. The 30-year-old experienced opener played some lovely shots during his knock, which was was cut short when he holed out to deep midwicket fielder Alex Hales off the bowling of skipper Stuart Broad in the 11th over of the innings.
Quinton de Kock fell soon after as the batsman, stepping out of the crease, was stumped by Buttler with a sharp piece of work before the South Africa could get back.
Thereafter, the redoubtable De Villiers took charge as well as he normally does in such situations, hitting the English bowlers all over the park to prop up South Africa's innings. With David Miller giving him able support at the other end, De Villiers freed his arms to go all out. There was one
shot against Dernbach whose full delivery outside off was smacked straight down the ground for a six with the batsman down on one knee.
The ball was changed after that but the result was same as De Villiers hammered the bowler for another maximum, this time over long-on. That brought the skipper's fifty, which turned out to be the fastest in T20s for South Africa.
Image: Wayne Parnell of South Africa celebrates with Dale Steyn after dismissing Alex Hales of England during the ICC World Twenty20 Group 1 match at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong
Photo: Gareth Copley/Getty Images