South Africa ready to topple Aussies after reaching WT20 final with history making win
South Africa’s women have become the first cricket team from their country ever to make a World Cup final – and now they’ve got their eyes set on making more history by toppling T20 champions Australia.
Despite all the tears and emotion that greeted their landmark six-run semi-final triumph over England in Cape Town on Friday, the Proteas feel the trailblazing job won’t be complete unless they beat Meg Lanning’s powerhouse side in Sunday’s showdown.
“Getting to the final is massive,” said a beaming Proteas’ skipper Sune Luus, urging the ecstatic crowd to make even more noise on Sunday to get behind the first South African senior side, men or women, to ever make a World Cup cricket final.
“Every game we play, we keep making history and keep inspiring a nation – and I hope with one game to go we keep doing that.
“Hopefully, this is a turning point for women’s sport in South Africa.”
Australia, shooting for a third straight global T20 triumph and their sixth in seven editions, will be well aware South Africa were the underdogs going into their semi-final against a most impressive England side, just as they will be on Sunday.
When the teams met at Gqeberha in the group stages eight days ago, Australia hammered the Proteas by six wickets with 21 balls to spare.
But the Aussies will still have been impressed by the way the Proteas confounded the odds to close out Friday’s match, restricting England in the dying overs with the input of pace bowlers Shabnim Ismail and Ayabonga Khaka proving decisive in their best performance of the tournament.
It was just as close a contest as Australia’s victory by five runs over India in the first semi-final at the same venue 24 hours earlier, and the South Africans demonstrated the same cool, big-match temperament as Lanning’s team in the game’s denouement.
Two terrific knocks from openers Laura Wolvaardt (53 off 44 balls) and Tazmin Brits (68 off 55) had earlier done most to propel the Proteas to a challenging total of 4-164 after they elected to bat first.
But the powerful England side had looked well on the way to reaching the target as they eased to 3-132 with still the best part of four overs to go.
But when Nadine de Klerk dismissed the key hitter Nat Sciver-Brunt for 40, the game took a dramatic shift.
In her final over, the 18th of the innings, Khaka (4-29) snaffled three wickets, getting rid of Amy Jones, Sophie Ecclestone and Katherine Sciver-Brunt, to completely transform the game.
And with 13 needed off the last six balls, Ismail (3-27) stepped up nervelessly, bowling England’s last hope, captain Heather Knight, for 31 to ensure the Proteas reached their milestone game.
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Top-scorer Brits also had a big afternoon in the field, taking four catches, including a blinding one-handed effort at full stretch to dismiss Alice Capsey and another easier one at long-on to end Nat Sciver-Brunt’s knock.
“I still cannot believe it. I am impressed and happy with it,” she said of the Capsey catch that helped her win the player of the match honours.
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