There was rain, there were tears, as South Africa suffered a heartbreak against Australia in the rain-curtailed second semi-final of the 2020 Women's T20 World Cup at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday (March 5). The Meg Lanning-side won the encounter by five runs (DLS) and have now set a date with India in the finale.
The first semi-final between India and England was washed out and Harmanpreet Kaur and Co. made it through to the final by virtue of their superior group-stage record. The all-important final will be played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.
Asked to bat, Nadine de Klerk claimed 3 for 19 but Lanning scored a run-a-ball 49* to propel Australia to 134/5 in 20 overs on a tricky Sydney surface. The rain once again made its presence felt after the end of the first innings and as a result, South Africa were set a revised target of 98 in 13 overs. In response, Laura Wolvaardt (27-ball 41*) kept South Africa in the game till the very end, but couldn’t get them over the line.
Earlier, with rain around the corner, Australian openers Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney straightaway commenced their innings on fifth gear, slamming five boundaries in the first four overs. However, before Healy could do further damage, Ayabonga Khaka had the wicketkeeper-batter caught at mid-wicket for a 13-ball 18.
Coming in at No. 3, Lanning smoked Dane van Niekerk down the ground for a six to announce her arrival. The hosts were moving along nicely before van Niekerk brought Marizanne Kapp's replacement, de Klerk, into the attack. The right-arm seamer knocked over Mooney for a 24-ball 28 before sending Ashleigh Gardner back for a two-ball duck. Australia promoted Jess Jonassen to No. 4 but the move didn't pay off as Nonkululeko Mlaba dismissed her for just 1.
There was moisture on the surface and Australia needed her captain to step up. With wickets falling at the other end, Lanning couldn’t play her natural game and didn’t put enough pressure on the South African bowlers. De Klerk found enough support from Chloe Tryon and Mlaba but it was the former who kept chipping away with the wickets.
Rachael Haynes (17) couldn't come up with anything substantial but Lanning finally opened her shoulders in the 18th over. The 27-year-old smashed Ayabonga Khaka for 17 but couldn't build on that momentum as Australia could only manage 11 in the final two overs.
With a required run-rate of just over 7.5, South Africa needed a rapid start from their openers. Lizelle Lee, who scored a century against Thailand, made 10 before she was caught brilliantly at long-on by Gardner. Former World No. 1 ranked bowler Megan Schutt (2 for 17) then knocked over van Niekerk (13) with a superb inswinging delivery and the pressure started to build on South Africa.
The Australian bowlers bowled with great control and never allowed the South African batters to get going. South Africa were 35 for 3 at the end of seven overs, needing a further 63 off 36 deliveries. Sune Luus and Wolvaardt had to go for the big shots and they smoked a four and a six in the eighth over to bring some momentum into the innings.
Delissa Kimmince and Nicola Carey conceded 19 runs in the next two overs and the equation came down to 32 off 18. Kimmince however was brilliant with her variations and finished with figures of 1 for 16. Kimmince and Schutt only went for 13 in the next two overs and the latter also dismissed Luus for a 22-ball 21. Needing 19 off 6, Jonassen did the job for Australia and led them to their sixth final since the inception of the tournament in 2009.