South Africa stunned England with an impressive all-round display to reach their first-ever World Cup final in any format of international cricket. Powered by a 96-run opening partnership between Tazmin Brits and Laura Wolvaardt, who both scored half-centuries for the second time in the tournament, the hosts posted 164 for 4. Marizanne Kapp’s cameo of 27 runs off just 13 balls in the end helped the Proteas achieve a competitive total.
England, in reply, needed to chase down their joint third-highest successful T20I run chase and the joint-highest at a World Cup, which was the same target they had achieved in their 2009 semi-final against Australia. However, the South African pace duo of Ayabonga Khaka and Shabnim Ismail had other ideas as they claimed seven wickets between them. Brits also played a crucial role by equalling the record for most catches taken in a Women’s T20I with four grabs. England eventually fell short by six runs, and South Africa set up a mouth-watering clash against the defending champions Australia in the final.
It was a remarkable turnaround for the Proteas, who had lost their opening match of the tournament to Sri Lanka by three runs and were beaten by Australia in their second game. They bounced back with a win over Bangladesh in their final group game to sneak into the knockout stages, where they held their nerve to clinch a stunning victory over England in front of a raucous crowd of 7,507 fans in Cape Town.
South Africa’s win was built on a strong start by their openers, Wolvaardt and Brits, who batted brilliantly in tandem. Wolvaardt, in particular, was in excellent touch and brought up her sixth T20I fifty. She fell soon after, but Brits kept up the momentum by dancing down the pitch twice in three balls to smash Sarah Glenn for two huge sixes. She eventually fell to a solid catch by Katherine, but not before she had propelled her side towards a challenging total.
In the field, South Africa’s pace duo of Khaka and Ismail proved too hot to handle for England’s batters. Ismail bowled with pace and guile in the powerplay, claiming two wickets, including the crucial wicket of Alice Capsey for a duck, caught by Brits who took an absolute blinder. Brits then took two more sharp catches to dismiss Danni Wyatt and Amy Jones. Khaka, meanwhile, got into the act with two wickets in two balls to remove Sophie Ecclestone and Katherine Sciver-Brunt, which left England needing 25 runs off the remaining two overs. Despite a late surge from Heather Knight, England fell short as Ismail pegged back Knight’s leg stump with just three balls remaining.
South Africa will now take on Australia in the final, where they will aim to become the first-ever South African team to win a World Cup in any format of international cricket. The Proteas have come a long way since their disappointing start to the tournament, and their victory over England will undoubtedly give them the confidence they need to upset the defending champions in the final.