South Africa beat England by six wickets in the final over of their ICC Women’s T20 World Cup opener in Perth.
England fought hard with the ball to take it down to the wire after Nat Sciver’s 50 had led them to 123/8 and given them a sniff at the interval, but Mignon Du Preez and Sune Luus got their side over the line.
Heather Knight’s team would have felt below par with the bat, struggling to find the boundary throughout with South Africa’s bowlers making it hard to score at a pace.
But it was a similar story in South Africa’s reply. Dane van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp combined for an 84-run partnership but England controlled the rate and were always in the game.
A flurry of late wickets got South African hearts racing – and perhaps with 33 needed from the final three overs England were even in the ascendancy – but some late hitting saw it go the Proteas’ way.
It leaves England – like hosts Australia – effectively needing to win their remaining group games in order to progress to the semi-finals. They face Thailand next in Canberra on Wednesday February 26.
Heather Knight: “We didn’t quite get enough runs on the board and it was going to be tricky to defend that total on that pitch but the bowlers did tremendously well.
“We showed a lot of fight and all of the bowlers made it tough for South Africa.
“It’s not panic stations, far from it, it could easily have gone the other way and we know that we’ve got a lot more to give.”
Lead photo shows Sophie Ecclestone who took 2-19 from her four overs.
Comments from our correspondent Julian Thompson:
* As heard on Radio 5 Live, South Africa (127/4; 19.4 overs) were overjoyed to beat England (123/8) by six wickets, at Perth (Aus) on 23/2/2020.
* Natalie Sciver top-scored for England, hitting her half-century off only 40 balls (1 ‘six’); when her stumps were cartwheeled by Ayabonga Khaka (3/25)
* South Africa’s captain Dane vanNiekerk (2/20) celebrated her sixtieth T20 wicket, dismissing her opposite number, England’s Heather Knight
* England made 96/4 by the ‘Hundred’ benchmark (16.4 overs) During the next three overs, disaster struck when four wickets went down in quick succession
* Though the game seemed evenly matched, commentators were critical of England’s batting. Closing on 123/8 England set South Africa 124 to win
* Crucially, South Africa’s record-breaking opener Lizelle Lee (4) went cheaply – well caught by Lauren Winfield off Anya Shrubsole’s pace
* Top-scorer Dane vanNiekerk (46) was caught at point by Tammy Beaumont. Marizanne Kapp (38) gave a dolly-of-a-catch to newbie Sarah Glenn (1/26)
* South Africa made 91/3 by the ‘Hundred’ benchmark (16.4 overs) at which point Mignon duPreez had replaced her hard-hitting captain
* Needing 7 from the last 4 balls, Mignon duPreez launched a crowd-pleasing ‘six’, followed by a final ‘four’ – to steal the match with two balls to spare
* Talking later on SKY sports news, former England cricketer Nasser Hussain said South Africa had never before beaten England in T20 cricket
Courtesy of the ECB