Quinton de Kock and Kagiso Rabada impressed as South Africa held on to defeat the United States by 18 runs in an entertaining encounter as the Super 8s began at the T20 World Cup on Wednesday.

Opener De Kock smashed 74 runs from just 40 balls and captain Aiden Markram added 46 for the Proteas as their top order finally fired after enduring a difficult start to the tournament.

Even though Harmeet Singh (2-24) removed De Kock and David Miller (0) in consecutive balls in the 13th over, Heinrich Klaasen (36 not out) and Tristan Stubbs (20no) helped South Africa to a healthy 194-4 in Antigua.

USA fell to 76-5 just after the midway point of their innings as it looked like a chase of 195 would fall flat, but a magnificent partnership of 91 from 43 balls between Andries Gous and Harmeet took USA to within 28 of their target with two overs to spare.

However, Rabada took the crucial wicket of Harmeet for 38 and killed the contest as his 19th over went for that wicket and just two runs, capping a fine bowling display that saw him finish with figures of 3-18 from four overs.

Gous batted on and finished with an impressive unbeaten 80 off 47 balls, but USA fell short as South Africa maintained their 100 per cent record in the competition so far.

Data Debrief: De Kock and Gous impress

After USA won the toss and elected to field before removing Reeza Hendricks (11) in the third over, they sensed an opportunity to seize control.

But De Kock had other ideas, smashing three successive sixes as South Africa scored a huge 28 off the fourth over to seize momentum they did not relinquish from there.

De Kock’s superb innings included five maximums and seven fours until he was finally removed by Harmeet in the 13th over.

As the South Africa star left the field, only three players had recorded a better innings than him in this year's tournament – West Indies' Nicholas Pooran (98), USA's Aaron Jones (94 not out) and Afghanistan batter Rahmanullah Gurbaz (who has had scores of 80 and 76).

But Gous then immediately topped him with an excellent knock of his own, and the American now has the most runs in the tournament with 182, putting him 15 ahead Gurbaz, who is back in action against India on Thursday.