Chasing 190, England needed 14 from the final six balls but Kagiso Rabada began the over with a hat-trick, having Chris Woakes
Eoin Morgan and Chris Jordan caught in the deep.
Although they inflicted a first defeat of the tournament on England,
South Africa’s failure to limit them to 131 or fewer meant Australia reached the last four at the Proteas’ expense.
England secured their place in the knockout stages by reaching 87,
and confirmed their status as group winners by reaching 106.
However, perhaps significantly for the rest of the tournament,
they lost opener Jason Roy to what appeared to be a serious calf injury.
He looked close to tears when forced to retire hurt and was using crutches after the game.
In an entertaining game full of wonderful striking, Rassie van der Dussen made a brilliant 94 not out from 60 balls in South Africa’s 189-2,
sharing an unbroken 103-run stand with Aiden Markram, who scored 52 not out from 25 deliveries.
Problems arrive for England:
The result did not affect the Super 12 standings, but at the least it checked England’s momentum after four comprehensive wins in succession.
West Indies, Bangladesh, Australia and Sri Lanka were swatted aside with ease and Eoin Morgan’s team were charging towards the knockout stages.
Afghanistan or India – with questions that were not evident before.
The biggest concern is the injury to Roy, whose departure had an undoubted impact on the result of this game. Having made 20 off 15 balls,
he pulled up running a single and had to be helped off the ground.
England have already lost fast bowler Tymal Mills for the rest of the tournament with a thigh strain.
He was replaced by Mark Wood, who returned figures of 0-47 on his return from an ankle problem.
In truth, all the seamers struggled, with Chris Woakes uncharacteristically off colour in conceding 43 from four overs.
Moeen Ali bowled opener Reeza Hendricks in the third over of South Africa’s innings,
but England could not repeat the feat achieved in their previous four games of taking at least three powerplay wickets – and subsequently the runs flowed.
England also conceded overthrows three times in two overs late on – a spell which summed up their evening.
Rabada hat-trick seals victory after Livingstone fireworks:
England looked second favourites for much of the chase, the pursuit hampered by the loss of Roy and the departure of Jos Buttler,
who hit to mid-off to depart for 26 and end a run of 198 runs without dismissal across three innings.
The first of his sixes went 112m, the largest of the tournament, but Livingstone holed out at long-off to fall for 28 before Rabada made sure of victory.
It was not the prettiest of hat-tricks, one that left Rabada grinning almost sheepishly.