South Africa edged England in a thrilling semifinal to reach their first-ever ICC Womens T20 World Cup final with a six-run win here on Friday.
Tazmin Brits’s 68 set South Africa up for a commanding total of 164 for four, as she combined for a 96-run opening stand with Laura Wolvaardt, with no bowler safe from an onslaught.
England looked to respond in the same vein, racing to 50 runs before wickets regularly halted their progress, Brits taking four catches in the performance of a lifetime.
Nat Sciver-Brunt and Heather Knight tried to steer England home, but they could not deny South Africa a place in the showpiece on home soil.
Brits and Wolvaardt showed none of the nerves on display against Bangladesh just three days ago as they set the tone for a run-fest. The duo started patiently, but flicked the switch for Charlie Dean’s first over, the fifth of the innings, as the off-spinner was dispatched for a 75-metre six by Wolvaardt, the first maximum of the day, as Dean conceded 14.
Brits survived an LBW shout in the 13th over, with replays showing the delivery from Dean had hit the opener’s glove before hitting her hip. The next over brought two milestones, Wolvaardt’s earned her fifty off 42 balls with a boundary but was out three balls later as she edged a ballooning catch to Dean to end the first-wicket partnership at 96 and give Sophie Ecclestone the breakthrough.
Brits just kept going, however, smoking a six back over Sarah Glenn’s head to bring up South Africa’s hundred as the leg-spinner was taken for 18 runs in the over.
Just as the talented Ecclestone was needed to dismiss Wolvaardt, an impressive catch from Katherine Sciver-Brunt was required to undo Brits, the veteran bowler running around to her left and diving to dismiss Brits for 68 from 55 balls.
Ecclestone delivered again in her final over removing Chloe Tryon for three as she pulled a shot straight to Nat Sciver-Brunt before Nadine de Klerk departed for a duck two balls later.
But while Ecclestone had reined South Africa in again, conceding only three, Katherine Sciver-Brunt released any momentum, coughing up 18 runs, including a five-run no-ball off her last over as South Africa set 165 to win.
England showed they were more than up for the fight as Danni Wyatt and Sophia Dunkley’s fifty partnership arrived after only 28 balls, Dunkley heaving Nonkululeko Mlaba for three fours in a row to bring up the half-century.
She was first to fall for South Africa as Shabnim Ismail forced Wyatt into a splice which Brits held onto as Dunkley departed for 28 from 16.
While Brits’ first catch was steady, her second was incredible as she dived and reached the ball just in time to send Alice Capsey back to the hutch for a duck and leave England teetering at 55 for two at the end of the powerplay.
Despite having Nat Sciver-Brunt alongside her, Wyatt led the charge as her partner struggled to find the gaps, a fact that became all the more worrying when Wyatt became Brits’ third catch of the innings as she went for 34.
Natalie Sciver-Brunt was living dangerously, successfully overturning an LBW decision before being dropped by Tryon on 17, but the close shave seemed to fuel her as she found her rhythm scooping Ismail for back-to-back fours.
Just as soon as she found her form, she was gone, Brits taking another catch as Natalie Sciver-Brunt departed for 40 with England needing 34 from 24 balls.
Amy Jones lasted only three balls, Ecclestone two and Katherine Sciver-Brunt only one as Ayabonga Khaka took three wickets in her final over.
With 13 needed off the last over, Ismail equalled Anya Shrubsole for most wickets in a T20 World Cup with the wicket of Knight, but the real prize came three balls later as South Africa sealed their place in the final on Sunday where they will meet holders Australia.
South Africa 164/4 in 20 overs (Tazmin Brits 68, Laura Wolvaardt 53; Sophie Ecclestone 3-22) beat England 158/8 in 20 overs (Nat Sciver-Brunt 40, Danni Wyatt 34; Ayabonga Khaka 4-29, Shabnim Ismail 3-27) by six runs