Proteas women’s World Cup hopes hang in the balance after loss to Aussies 

Proteas women’s World Cup hopes hang in the balance after loss to Aussies 
Marizanne Kapp of South Africa during the ICC Women's T20 World Cup match between South Africa and Australia at St George's Park on 18 February 2023 in Gqeberha, South Africa. (Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images)

There is a possibility that by the time they play Bangladesh on Tuesday, hosts South Africa will have been eliminated from the T20 Women’s World Cup.

Following a second loss in the group phase of the ongoing T20 Women’s World Cup, the Proteas women’s hopes of reaching the knockout stage hang by a thread.  

The South Africans, hosting the tournament for the first time in their history, went down by six wickets against defending champions Australia on Saturday in Gqeberha.  

The hosts fumbled a promising start by openers Laura Wolvaardt and Tazmin Brits, who put up 54 runs, but could not build on it as the former fell for just 19 runs off 28 balls. They had lost the toss and were asked to bat first. 

Following that steady opening period at the crease for South Africa in front of doting home supporters, the innings’ momentum quickly shifted in favour of Australia. The home side lost three wickets for just seven runs, with Marizanne Kapp (0), Brits (45) and Chloé Tryon (1) all sent back to the dugout to leave the Proteas wilting on 77 for four by the 12th over.   

Having disrupted the home side’s momentum and rapidly done away with the dangerous South African willow-wielders, it became a simple task for the Australians to restrict Hilton Moreeng’s team to a very chaseable 124 for six in their allotted 20 overs.  

Despite early inroads from South Africa’s superb bowling lineup — which left the five-time T20 world champions sweating in spite of the overcast conditions at Saint George’s Park — the Australians recovered to ease past the South African score. 

Kapp, playing her first international match in her city of birth, showed her quality with ball in hand. Her two wickets, sandwiched between another World Cup wicket for SA spin queen Nonkululeko Mlaba, saw the Aussies teetering on 40 for three.  

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However, whereas the South Africans had crumbled after losing consecutive wickets, Australia showed mental fortitude as Ashleigh Gardner (28 not out) and Tahlia McGrath (57) combined brilliantly during a pivotal 79-run partnership for the fourth wicket.

The latter, particularly, took the game to the South Africans to record her fifth T20 international half-century and reestablish the chasing side’s control of the match. By the time the hosts eventually claimed her scalp through Masabata Klaas in the 16th over, the damage was already done.  

“We lost a couple of wickets, one after the other. That broke our momentum. We couldn’t adjust after that, to get to the score we wanted to get to,” said Proteas captain Sunè Luus in assessing where her team lost the contest. 

She contrasted her team’s batting collapse to the Australians’ willpower and quality, saying: “That’s classic Australia. When most teams have them with their backs against the wall, they always have stars coming in and giving that clinical performance. 

“It was an awesome start from our bowlers. Especially in the first 10 overs. But they had a couple of world-class players [that stepped up after our good start]. And we lost our lines and length in the last 10 overs. But they batted extremely well.” 

While the Australians are already through to the semifinals, the Proteas will now hope that New Zealand do them a favour and beat Sri Lanka on Sunday evening. Should they do so, South Africa will still have a good chance of qualifying for the semifinals — provided they best Bangladesh on Tuesday. 

“The loss against Sri Lanka was not ideal. But that’s World Cup cricket. We are focused on the next game. Anything can still happen. So we are hopeful that New Zealand can play a good game [and beat Sri Lanka],” Luus told journalists after the loss to Australia.  

The net run rate situation favours the tournament hosts. This means if the White Ferns beat the Sri Lankans, the Proteas would probably only need a win by any margin against Bangladesh in their final match to progress. 

However, should Sri Lanka beat New Zealand, then the hosts are out and the Sri Lankans will join Australia in the semifinals. DM


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