South Africa upset England by six runs to reach its first Women’s T20 World Cup final on Friday.
Seamers Ayabonga Khaka and Shabnim Ismail shared seven wickets for the host team and kept a powerful English batting lineup at bay.
South Africa will face two-time defending champion Australia in Sunday’s final and has the chance of doing something the men’s national team has never done — win a cricket World Cup, with the added bonus of it being on home soil.
Khaka took three wickets in the 18th over and finished with 4-29, tearing through England’s middle order in those six balls when they looked on course to successfully chase down South Africa’s 164-4.
Ismail had 3-27 and bowled the tense last over, when England still had a chance, needing 13 runs with captain Heather Knight at the wicket on 31 not out. Ismail’s third ball of the over angled in at Knight, clipped her on the hip and knocked out her leg stump, effectively sealing it for South Africa.
England needed to hit two sixes off the last two balls and managed only three more runs to finish on 158-8.
“It was a great match,” South Africa captain Sune Luus said. “We were in and out of the game and it went in waves. We do have the best bowling in the world but it was against the best batting attack in the world. We kept saying . . . need to be brave and play free cricket.”
South Africa’s players celebrated their comeback, both in the game and in the tournament, by leaping on each other in a team huddle near the middle at Newlands. They surprisingly lost the World Cup opener to Sri Lanka and faced a must-win final group game against Bangladesh to reach the knockout stage.
England felt more semifinal pain after its last-four game against India at the last World Cup was abandoned because of rain and India went through to the final because of a better record in the group stage.
England has also lost three finals and its triumph in the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2009 remains its last.
“Gutted,” England captain Knight said. “Brilliant game of cricket. We did well to take it close. The girls embraced it but it didn’t come off today.”
South Africa opening batter Tazmin Brits also had a big impact on the game, making 68 from 55 balls and sharing a 96-run opening stand with Laura Wolvaardt (53 from 44), and a quick 46-run partnership with Marizanne Kapp, whose 27 not out from 13 balls led to a solid total.
England’s formidable batting started strongly as openers Sophia Dunkley and Danni Wyatt plundered 53 from the first five overs.
Ismail removed Dunkley for 28 and then Alice Capsey for a duck, via a diving one-handed catch by Brits in the outfield. It was one of four catches for Brits.
England powered on, though, with Nat Sciver-Brunt threatening to hit her team to victory until she holed out on the boundary for 40 from 34 balls, and to another one of Brits’ catches.
Khaka and Ismail then made sure of South Africa’s victory.
Australia is the strong favorite to win the final, having triumphed in five of the seven previous T20 World Cups. Sunday will be Australia’s seventh consecutive final.