South Africa into World Cup Final

With a brilliant all-around performance, South Africa beat England by six runs in the nail-biting final over at Newlands in Cape Town on Friday, securing their first-ever final spot in Women’s T20 World Cup history (February 24). South Africa reached a competitive 164/4 thanks to fifties from the starters Tazmin Brits (68) and Laura Wolvaardt (53), as well as a late cameo from Marizanne Kapp (27* off 13), but it appeared to be a little under-given the strong start England’s openers made in the chase. Ayabonga Khaka (4 for 29) then played a key role in a fatal England collapse of 4 for 8, keeping them to 158/8 in response and setting up the host nation’s final match with the reigning champions Australia. However, Shabnim Ismail (3-27) dented their powerplay charge.

The South African openers were unable to get off to the start they had hoped for despite playing similarly to their previous match and electing to bat first with the aim of posting a score that could be defended. The host team was cautious given that they had only scored 21 runs in the first four overs, including just one boundary. The host team completed the powerplay with a respectable recovery to 37/0. Wolvaardt then changed gears, taking on off-spinner Charlie Dean with a lofted six to long-off in the fifth over. Brits then joined in the next. It was a very productive period during the middle overs. By the conclusion of the eighth over, the pair had reached their third World Cup half-century stand, and they quickly increased the stakes. With a lofted drive through the covers off Sophie Ecclestone, Wolvaardt achieved her second consecutive half-century in the World Cup, off 42 balls. However, the left arm got her revenge in the following over by inducing a leading edge that was easily caught at point.

At 96, the partnership was broken in the 14th over, and the experienced British team seized control. She hit Sarah Glenn for 6, 3, and 4 runs to give South Africa a much-needed boost. Brits reached her second fifty in as many games with the last of those boundaries, which took 43 balls. The dangerous British team was sent packing on 68 (55 balls) when Lauren Bell came back in the 18th over, and South Africa’s momentum was severely dented by Ecclestone’s three-run double-wicket over after they quickly lost hard-hitters, Chloe Tryon and Nadine de Klerk. However, Kapp stepped up, sending Katherine Sciver-waist-high Brunt’s full throw to fine leg before ending the last over with back-to-back boundaries. South Africa scored well on an old field thanks to the 66 runs they snatched in the final six overs, but England didn’t give up easily.

For reaching to the semi-final, South Africa has defeated Bangladesh by 10 wickets.

In fact, it didn’t seem like England was losing at all for the first 16 overs. Sophia Dunkley and Danni Wyatt jumped right into the 165-run pursuit. The opening duo launched a barrage of boundaries during the powerplay, with the highlight being Dunkley’s hat-trick of them off Nonkululeko Mlaba, which helped the team surpass the 50-run threshold in the very first over. Ismail’s two strikes in the final powerplay over, however, helped to deflate some of England’s early momentum. The South African pacer ended Dunkley’s exceptional 16-ball cameo of 28 first delivery and then gave Alice Capsey a second-ball duck, helped by some outstanding fielding from Brits at midwicket.

To help England maintain the asking rate, Wyatt and Nat Sciver-Brunt teamed up at 53/2 and maintained at least a boundary and overcoming until the drinks break. However, the escape resulted in a significant victory for South Africa. With a diving attempt to catch Wyatt’s pull at short fine, Brits contributed to her third consecutive dismissal, ending the opener’s 30-ball knock on 34. After a few uneventful overs, Heather Knight (31 off 25) broke the mold by lofting Chloe Tryon over extra cover for England’s first six of the game. She and Nat’s 47 runs together kept England in contention up until the final few overs. The English vice-captain took Ismail for a 14-run over shortly after the 100 came up, bringing the equation down to 34 needed off 24.

However, just as England appeared to be winning, de Klerk made a dramatic comeback and had Nat toe-end a full-toss to the British at long-on. With the wickets of Amy Jones, Ecclestone, and Katherine in the following over, Khaka solidified his edge as England fell from a relatively comfortable 132/3 to 140/7. When England required 13 runs in the final six balls, Knight, who was watching the wickets fall at the other end, slammed Kapp for a six straight down the ground in the 12-run penultimate over. However, Ismail broke her leg pole to end England’s slim hopes.