England's hopes of making the World Twenty20 semi-finals were finally extinguished after they lost a do-or-die shootout with South Africa by three runs in Chittagong.
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Having allowed the Proteas to post a formidable 196 for five, England got within a blow of chasing down another record score following Alex Hales' heroics against Sri Lanka.
But they will now depart once Monday's final Super 10 clash with Holland is over, pondering the fine margins of defeat.
They did not produce an innings to match AB de Villiers' wonderful 69 not out or Hashim Amla's 56, nor could their bowlers summon a spell to rival Wayne Parnell's three-wicket blast or Imran Tahir's controlled display of leg-spin.
But had Jos Buttler stumped Amla on 19 or Jade Dernbach not been pummelled for 26 in an abject 18th over, they may have lived to fight another day.
And while there will be disappointment at failure to make the last four of the competition they won in 2010, there must also be a sense of relief that this most troubling of winters is finally at an end.
A permanent replacement for Andy Flower - most likely the incumbent Ashley Giles - will be appointed next month and a failed World T20 will join the Ashes whitewash as the final gasp before a fresh start.
Broad sent South Africa in but Amla enjoyed a rollicking start, stroking Moeen Ali's second legal delivery for four and whipping Dernbach for six off his hip in the second over.
The first of two floodlight failures gave England 10 minutes to regroup and they should have dismissed Amla shortly after the restart.
Moeen evaded the bat as he came down the wicket but Jos Buttler made a mess of the stumping.
Amla had 19 to his name at the time and responded, predictably, by launching Moeen's next ball for six.
A second floodlight delay might have derailed Amla but instead it was England who wavered, with mis-fields, wides and byes all making an appearance.
With Quinton de Kock hardly getting a look in at the other end, Amla moved to his first T20 fifty in 30 balls.
He was eventually prised out in the 11th over, shovelling Broad to deep-midwicket where Hales showed safe hands.
De Kock's one-paced stay was ended when Buttler managed a successful stumping off Tredwell and JP Duminy was run out for four having dropped his bat.
The responsibility now lay with De Villiers and - after Tim Bresnan downed a thunderous return catch - he shouldered it with a mix of autenthic cricket strokes and brutal aerial blows.
He began with a trio of early boundaries and came into his own with some fearless hitting at the death as the final four overs leaked 68 runs.
The 18th was by some distance England's nadir, Dernbach hit for successive fours by Miller, two sixes by De Villiers and chipping in with two wides and a no-ball.
Hales placed Duminy for two boundaries in the first over of the reply but thought his night's work was done when he lifted Albie Morkel to backward point.
He was spared by a dubious no-ball call from umpire Rod Tucker, took guard once again and despatched the unlucky Morkel for consecutive fours.
Michael Lumb contributed two muscular sixes, one each off pace pair Beuran Hendricks and Dale Steyn, but was caught on 18 from Parnell's low full toss.
Hales thrashed Hendricks for two more fours and one huge six to leave England 62 for one after the six-over powerplay, well up with a demanding run-rate.
The tide turned in the eighth over, Parnell having key man Hales caught in the deep and then removing Moeen with the very next ball, via a thin under-edge.
Parnell was hunting just the fourth international T20 hat-trick and although he found Buttler's edge, it landed low and safe.
With 10 overs remaining - three apiece from Imran Tahir and Steyn - Buttler and Eoin Morgan were faced with a target of 105.
What seemed a hopeless task got even harder when Morgan was done by Tahir for 14.
Buttler came to life in the 14th over, with two fours and a lofty straight six off Hendricks, but his invention got the better of him when a reverse-sweep off Tahir carried gently to the grateful Morkel.
Needing 34 from the last two overs and 22 from six balls, England got closer than they would have hoped - Ravi Bopara crashing 31 and Bresnan taking Steyn for six, four, six to end.