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Proteas Women revel in historic win over Australia, but a series victory would taste even sweeter

Proteas Women revel in historic win over Australia, but a series victory would taste even sweeter
Laura Wolvaardt of South Africa bats during game two of the Women’s T20 International series against Australia at Manuka Oval on 28 January 2024 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo: Mark Metcalfe / Getty Images)

South Africa’s senior women’s cricket team levelled their three-match T20 series against Australia at one-all with a six-wicket win on Sunday. It was the first time the Proteas had beaten the Aussies.

The Proteas Women are riding an unfamiliar wave after beating the generally indomitable Australian women’s senior cricket team by six wickets on  Sunday.

The Proteas had previously fallen short in their endeavours to finally beat the reigning one-day international (ODI) and T20 champions.  

The Aussies cruised to a comfortable eight-wicket win on Saturday, 27 January to take control of the three-game series. Beth Mooney’s super innings of 72 not out from 57 balls was pivotal in securing an emphatic victory for the tour hosts.

Tables turn

A day later, the Proteas landed a counterpunch as skipper Laura Wolvaardt’s unbeaten player-of-the-match knock of 58 from 53 balls steered South Africa to a maiden victory over the best women’s cricket team in the world.

South Africa’s bowling unit took wickets at regular enough intervals to disrupt any attempts at momentum by the Aussies, restricting the home side to 142 for six in the allotted 20 overs at Canberra’s Manuka Oval.

proteas women australia

Masabata Klaas of South Africa celebrates taking the wicket of Beth Mooney of Australia during game two of the Women’s T20 International series at Manuka Oval on 28 January 2024 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo: Mark Metcalfe / Getty Images)

Masabata Klaas was the pick of SA’s bowling line-up. She ran out the Proteas’ chief tormentor during the thrashing in the series opener — Mooney — at the non-striker’s end.

She struck again a few overs later, dismissing Australia’s skipper and Mooney’s fellow opener, Alyssa Healy, for a 24-ball 29. Klaas added another wicket to finish with figures of two wickets for just 16 runs from her four-over spell.

proteas women australia

Masabata Klaas of South Africa bowls during their Women’s T20 match against the Governor General’s XI at North Sydney Oval on 24 January 2024 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: Mark Evans / Getty Images)

Colleagues Nonkululeko Mlaba, Marizanne Kapp and Nadine de Klerk supported her with a single scalp apiece. The usually reliable Ayabonga Khaka had a day to forget, conceding 50 runs in four overs.

Cue the Wolvaardt show. The elegant batter dispatched six fours en route to her match-winning half-century. 

Tazmin Brits’ 28-ball 41 helped the Proteas set a solid foundation upfront. The 33-year-old and Wolvaardt put on 75 runs from the onset before Tahlia McGrath finally found the breakthrough for the Australians.

proteas women australia

Laura Wolvaardt of South Africa reacts after being dismissed by Darcie Brown of Australia during game one of the Women’s T20 International series at Manuka Oval on 27 January 2024 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo: Mark Metcalfe / Getty Images)

However, Wolvaardt kept the scoreboard ticking along, with assistance from Kapp (20 off 18) and Anneke Bosch, who recorded a run-a-ball 11. Veteran Chloe Tryon struck the winning runs as she found the boundary via mid-wicket, handing South Africa their first T20 win in nine matches against the Aussies.  

A special moment

“It’s very special. Obviously, having never beaten them before in any format or game is something we were looking to change. To do it in their own backyard is incredibly special,” Wolvaardt said.

“Especially just with a lot of senior players retiring in the past few years … to have this new dynamic young team … beating the world champions is something very special and something that hopefully can change our mindset. Hopefully, the voodoo is a bit broken now and we can win [against them] on a more regular basis,” the 24-year-old added.

proteas women australia

Alyssa Healy of Australia bats during game two of the Women’s T20 International series against South Africa at Manuka Oval on 28 January 2024 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo: Mark Metcalfe / Getty Images)

“Just knowing in the back of our minds that we have beaten them and can beat them [is important],” she said. “It’s always tough coming up against them in a World Cup knowing that we’ve never ever beaten them in our history.”

Captain Wolvaardt reserved special praise for fellow opener Brits. The right-hander has been in exceptional form recently, scoring a total of 272 runs in her last five matches.

She has also shouldered much more responsibility since key players Mignon du Preez and Lizelle Lee called time on their Proteas careers in 2022.

“Tazmin was just incredible upfront. We knew we needed a quick start and I was struggling a bit upfront to get in. But she just absolutely took so much pressure off the rest of the line-up,” said Wolvaardt as she lauded Brits.

With the series level at 1-1, the teams shift their focus to the winner-takes-all decider, which will be played on Tuesday, 30 January, with a 10am start. DM

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