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Proteas narrowly avoid World Cup upset against Nepal with last-ball victory

The Proteas avoided a historic upset at the T20 World Cup in Kingstown on Friday as they beat Nepal by a single run thanks to a run-out off the last ball of the match.

While South Africa had already qualified for the Super 8s, Friday's final pool-stage match was a chance for them to make sure of top spot in Group D against an opponent that was not expected to offer much resistance, but Nepal very nearly pulled off a victory for the ages.

After electing to bowl first, Nepal's bowling attack — led by four wickets from Kushal Bhurtel — gave the minnows every chance of pulling off a miraculous victory by restricting South Africa to just 115.

Aside from Reeza Hendricks' patient 43 at the top of the innings, none of the other Proteas batsmen managed to make much impact, with only a late cameo from Tristan Stubbs with 27 off 18 deliveries ensuring the Proteas amassed somewhat of a competitive total.

Openers Bhurtel and Aasif Sheikh got Nepal's run-chase off to a solid start, combining for 35 before the former was claimed in the eighth over by Tabraiz Shamsi.

However, captain Rohit Paudel's dismissal on the next ball derailed Nepal's momentum, with four of Nepal's middle order leaving the crease with less than 10 runs.

Wicketkeeper Sheikh proved a much more formidable foe for South Africa's bowlers, and his score of 42 — combined with 27 from Anil Kumar Sah — kept Nepal in the match.

The result ultimately came down to the final ball, with Nepal needing two runs for victory.

It was not meant to be for Nepal, however. Gulshan Jha was run out while scrambling for a bye on a delivery from Ottneil Baartman.

Shamsi led the way for South Africa's bowlers, finishing with four wickets for 19 runs.

South Africa's nail-biting victory came just days after the Proteas set the record for the lowest total defended in T20 World Cups.

They held off Bangladesh on Tuesday after scoring just 113.

"Very grateful to have got the win," said Proteas captain Aiden Markram after the match. "We weren't anywhere near our best tonight and for large parts of the game I thought we were going to be on the wrong side of the result.

"Reflecting on the game over the next couple of days there'll be a lot of learnings."

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