There is always an aura of heartbreak when South Africa are playing an ICC marquee event. Not too long ago, the men’s team lost a match against the Netherlands, to crash out of the tournament. Four months later, the women’s team were under severe threat of being ousted.
However, the hosts will buy some confidence from their pitch-perfect game against Bangladesh Women. Heading into the semi-finals against a team that has been near-perfect in all their league matches, they needed a performance like that after their early slips.
Again, South Africa in this tournament have shown shades of brilliance and dullness. A shocking defeat against Sri Lanka, then a crushing win against New Zealand, followed by a demoralizing defeat against Australia, and a confidence-boosting victory against Bangladesh. This has been their timeline in this tournament. They would wish for the pattern to change in the semi-final.
On the other hand, England have been invincible in their four league matches, like Australia. But, their wins have been near perfect. Their defeat-less run and their net run rate are all because of some individual brilliance from Nat Sciver-Brunt.
They were on the verge of slight difficulty against India when they lost their top three in the first six overs. But, it was Sciver and Heather Knight’s partnership that resurrected the innings. England’s middle order has been exceptional this tournament and the major credit goes to these two batters.
England’s batting vs South Africa’s bowling in powerplay
The top three batters of England have scored at an aggregate strike rate of 148.2 when no other team has scored at more than 130. When we just look at the strike rate, it feels oh wow! How is this bad?
In any case, the blitz hasn’t been a prolonged one. Their batters average 17.4, which is the second lowest after Bangladesh in this tournament. Adding more, their top three batters have lost a wicket every 11.8 balls, the worst among all the teams.
The effect of their explosive top order has seen them score at a run rate of 9.1 in the first six overs. No other team has scored over seven runs in this phase. Adding to that, they have hit a boundary every 4.1 balls. The next best is Australia, who have hit a boundary every 5.8 balls.
For a South African fan, here is something that soothes your ears. If England have been the best batting team in the first six overs, the hosts have been the best with the ball in hand. Their bowlers have conceded at an economy of 4.2, the best by a fair margin. They have bagged eight wickets at a balls/wicket ratio of 18, the joint-best alongside New Zealand.
Definitely, a feisty contest in the first phase of the innings itself.
Proteas batters need to up the ante
Throughout this tournament, their bowlers have done an exceptional job. But, it is the batting of the hosts that has let them down.
South Africa’s bowlers have conceded at an economy of 5.8, which is the second lowest after Australia. Howbeit, their top order batters (1-6) have scored at a run rate of 5.7. Only Bangladesh (5.1) and Sri Lanka (5.5) have scored at a lower rate.
They have done alright in the first six overs, but it’s the next 14 overs that has seen the downfall of their batters.
In the first six overs, they have scored at a run rate of 6.1 and have lost only three wickets at a balls/wicket ratio of 48.3. An excellent start! But, then comes the problem. In between 7-10, they have lost five wickets at a ball/wicket ratio of 19.2 and a run rate of 4.8, the second lowest.
Overall, between over 7-20, they have scored at a run rate of 6.2, again the second lowest among all teams.
Lauren Bell was rested in the game against Pakistan. In the all-important semi-final clash, the medium pacer is expected to return. Freya Davies who played that match is expected to be replaced. Sophia Dunkley hasn’t been able to put up a show yet. All eyes will be on her as well.
England Probable XI: Danni Wyatt, Sophia Dunkley, Alice Capsey, Nat Sciver-Brunt, Heather Knight (c), Amy Jones (wk), Sophie Ecclestone, Katherine Sciver-Brunt, Sarah Glenn, Charlie Dean, Lauren Bell.
The hosts are expected to play the same XI that they fielded against Bangladesh.
South Africa Probable XI: Laura Wolvaardt, Tazmin Brits, Marizanne Kapp, Sune Luus (c), Chloe Tryon, Anneke Bosch, Nadine de Klerk, Sinalo Jafta (wk), Shabnim Ismail, Ayabhonga Khaka, Nonkululeko Mlaba.