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SA fail at final hurdle as Australia clinch record sixth Women’s T20 World Cup crown

SA fail at final hurdle as Australia clinch record sixth Women’s T20 World Cup crown
Australia players celebrate winning the ICC Women's T20 World Cup final against South Africa at Newlands Cricket Ground on 26 February 2023 in Cape Town. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images / Getty Images)

Despite a valiant effort, the Proteas Women were outplayed by a confident Australian outfit, losing by 19 runs in the final at Newlands on Sunday.

Australia captured their sixth Women’s T20 World Cup with a routine 19-run victory over South Africa at Newlands cricket ground in Cape Town on Sunday, 29 February.

It was South Africa’s first appearance in a World Cup final whereas Australia were featuring in their seventh. The difference on the day was the experience of the Aussies in big-match situations. There wasn’t a major separation in performance between the two teams, but all the big moments belonged to Australia.

Australia players celebrate with the trophy after winning the ICC Womens T20 World Cup final against South Africa at Newlands Cricket Ground in Cape Town on 26 February 2023. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images)

The first one came through luck when Australian captain Meg Lanning won the toss. She elected to bat first – a tactic both teams employed in their respective successful semifinals.

Australian Beth Mooney played a sublime innings at the top of the order, striking 74 runs off 53 deliveries. Her innings contained nine fours and one six and she was ably supported by several teammates. 

The 156 posted by the Aussies was always going to be a daunting chase for a team playing in their first final.

And so it was as every batter outside of starlet Laura Wolvaardt – who scored an incredible 61 off 48 deliveries – failed to put any runs of note on the board.

Measured start

South Africa’s chase got off to a characteristically measured start. But in the tense situation of a World Cup final, the pressure created by a slow start destroyed any chance of a successful run-chase by the host country.

world cup newlands

Newlands was packed for the final. (Photo: Mike Hewitt / Getty Images)

Wolvaardt and Tazmin Brits scored 17 runs in the first five overs before the latter was dismissed for 10 runs off 17 balls. Every batter who came to the wicket after was immediately under pressure as the scoring rate stood at nine to the over.

Stalwart Marizanne Kapp struck two quick fours, but South Africa still posted their lowest powerplay score of the tournament – 22 for one.

Kapp was dismissed shortly after for a run-a-ball 11 before captain Suné Luus was run out after a terrible mix-up between herself and Wolvaardt.

With South Africa well behind the required run rate, Wolvaardt and Chloe Tryon gave the capacity 13,860 Newlands crowd a glimmer of hope.

Tahlia McGrath bowled two no balls in the 13th over and Wolvaardt smashed the second free hit – as a result of McGrath overstepping – for a massive six. She and Tryon took 14 off the over.

The 14th and 15th over went for 25 as Wolvaardt brought up her third consecutive half century off 43 deliveries.

But when the opener was trapped lbw by Megan Schutt in the 17th, it signalled the dimming of the last bit of hope for the South Africans.

A couple of lusty blows by Tryon and Sinalo Jaftha at the end was not enough for South Africa to lift their first senior World Cup trophy.

Dominant Aussies

Australia’s comprehensive 156 for six was hard work for the No 1 team. Wickets tumbled consistently throughout their innings, but Mooney carried her bat and kept the innings together with typically sublime stroke-making.

Australia had an uncharacteristically circumspect powerplay – not playing any shots of authority, but still capitalising on the loose balls. Healy and Mooney helped guide the cautious start to 36 for no loss.

Healy mistimed a shorter wide ball by Kapp straight to Nadine de Klerk at cover, who took an easy catch.

Shabnim Ismail cranked up the pressure by bowling the first maiden of the tournament in the sixth over to restrict Australia to 36 for one, their lowest powerplay total of the tournament.

Surprisingly, Lanning pushed herself down the order from No 3, where she has batted throughout her career. She sent in big-hitter Ashleigh Gardner, who was carded to come in at No 4, ahead of her.

The experiment paid off as Gardner took to the spin of Nonkululeko Mlaba and the medium pace of De Klerk. She hit Mlaba for consecutive fours before playing two elegant drives for six off De Klerk – one over mid-off and one over cover, helping Australia to 73 for one after 10 overs.

Captain Luus turned to her experienced players in Kapp and Tryon as the former built pressure with tight lines and lengths before the latter struck the telling blow, dismissing Gardner for 29 off 21 deliveries.

The thunderous ball striker tried to go downtown again, but only managed to sky it to Luus at long off.

austrial world cup

Nonkululeko Mlaba of South Africa celebrates taking the wicket of Grace Harris of Australia during the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final at Newlands Cricket Ground in Cape Town on 26 February 2023. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images)

The pair of Mooney and Gardner shared a 46-run, 41-delivery second-wicket partnership.

Australia’s go-to finisher Grace Harris then strutted in at No 4, but was soon back in the sheds after running past a Mlaba delivery that knocked her leg stump bail off its groove.

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When Lanning finally joined Mooney at the crease at No 5, Kapp employed a short ball tactic to the captain which restricted the scoring.

The tactic worked a treat and Lanning holed out off another Kapp short ball to Tryon at square leg, who took a tidy catch, sliding to her left.

Mooney, from the other end, continued on her merry way, bringing up a second half-century in two games after scoring 54 off 37 in the semifinal against India. This one was more erratic, coming off 44 deliveries, but it was equally important for her team.

From that point, the No 2-ranked batter in the world opened her shoulders and scored her next 24 runs in only nine deliveries.

South Africa maintained a slow over rate throughout Australia’s innings and they could have only three fielders outside the inner ring by the final over, which was bowled by Ismail.

That 20th over had it all. Mooney struck the first ball for a massive six before thwarting the second for an elegant four – both straight down the ground.

She was then dropped at backward point by Wolvaardt on the third delivery before Ismail went bang-bang. She first dismissed Ellyse Perry with a slower ball that was caught by Brits, and then she cleaned up Georgia Wareham with an on-pace delivery on the fourth and fifth delivery.

Perry’s wicket took Ismail to the outright leading wicket-taker in Women’s T20 World Cup history with 42, and Wareham’s scalp took her to 43.

With Ismail on a hat-trick on the final delivery, Tahlia McGrath, the No 1 ranked T20 batter in the world who strangely came in at eight – managed to get some bat on the last ball and take her side to 156. DM

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