England’s T20 World Cup hopes ended narrow defeat to South Africa
England’s hopes of reaching the Women’s T20 World Cup final were dashed by a narrow six-run defeat to South Africa in Cape Town.
England lost a flurry of late wickets in their chase of 165 to win, collapsing from 131 for three to 140 for seven, with three falling in the critical 18th over of the match.
South Africa made history of their own as they became the first Proteas side, men’s or women’s, to reach a World Cup final.
Ayabonga Khaka bowled that game-changing over, taking the wickets of Amy Jones, Sophie Ecclestone and Katherine Sciver-Brunt in quick succession.
England were left to rue missed opportunities having started their chase in dominant fashion, putting on more than 50 in the powerplay and scoring at more than 10 an over.
However, unlike South Africa, who lost their first wicket in the 14th over and just four in total, England wickets tumbled towards the end, shifting the momentum firmly in favour of the hosts.
England needed 13 going into the final over but South Africa’s victory was all but confirmed when Heather Knight was bowled with three balls remaining, for 31.
Shabnim Ismail bowled the final over of the match, finishing with three for 27 as Sune Luus’ side made South African history.
England had dominated throughout the tournament, including becoming the first ever women’s team to score more than 200 in a T20 World Cup innings during their final group match against Pakistan, but were not as cohesive in the semi-final.
Knight turned to five bowling options early on as England struggled to break the opening partnership, despite a slow start from Laura Wolvaardt and Tazmin Brits.
Both of the openers went on to score half-centuries (Wolvaardt 53, Brits 68) as England looked tired in the field, allowing uncharacteristic misfields to creep into their game.
Katherine Sciver-Brunt took her frustrations out on her team-mates at times in the field, but a double-wicket 19th over from Sophie Ecclestone stemmed South Africa’s momentum.
However a costly final over of 18 from Katherine Sciver-Brunt left England requiring 165 and they struggled to find the required boundaries with the bat.
England started their chase in the aggressive batting style that has epitomised their approach throughout the tournament, with 11 off the first over and 10 off the second.
But Sophia Dunkley was the first to fall, for 28 off 16 balls, before Brits took a stunning diving one-handed catch at midwicket to dismiss Alice Capsey for a duck and give Ismail her second wicket of the over.
England were ahead of the run rate and Danni Wyatt and Nat Sciver-Brunt looked to be building a partnership in a similar fashion to the match against Pakistan until the opener was caught for 34, leaving her side 85 for three.
Knight and Nat Sciver-Brunt put on 47 for the fourth wicket and looked to steady the innings but the latter was dismissed for 40 from 34 balls to spark the late collapse.
South Africa held their nerve and line with an attacking bowling approach and a clever use of the slower ball that saw England lose four wickets for just 21 runs and, ultimately, the game.