SYDNEY: Australia defied the rain to beat South Africa by five runs on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method and set up a Women’s T20 World Cup final against India.
Defending champions Australia were able to post 134-5 from their 20 overs after a delayed start, with captain Meg Lanning top-scoring with 49.
South Africa, who were chasing a rain-revised 98 from 13 overs, crumbled to 24-3 and were always behind the rate at the Sydney Cricket Ground despite Laura Wolvaardt’s unbeaten 41 from just 27 balls.
However, Australia will take heart from a superb bowling performance at the Sydney Cricket Ground that left South Africa’s captain, Dane van Niekerk, close to tears at the end of the match as her side once again missed out on a first global final.
Australia have featured in every T20 World Cup final since 2010, and have claimed the title four times.
India, who reached the final as Group A winners after their semi-final against England was rained off, were the only team to beat Australia during the group stages but it is the first time they have reached the T20 final.
At one point, Australia were nine minutes from elimination, with heavy rain falling as the cut-off time approached, knowing that if the game was abandoned without a result, South Africa would advance to the final because they were Group B winners.
However, the rain cleared and their bowlers excelled. Megan Schutt took 2-17 from her three overs and Australia’s spinners cashed in as South Africa tried to hit them out of the ground.
With the persistent rain slowing down the outfield, and South Africa consistently finding the fielders, Australia were able to pile on the pressure.
Australia will know they have got to the final without playing their best cricket – but it is their will to win, and the way they have fought through difficult positions with the bat, that has propelled them to Sunday’s final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
And with Australia in the final, organisers will be hopeful of breaking the record for the highest attendance at a women’s sporting event.
South Africa come agonisingly close once again
South Africa had a long huddle before they took to the field but they were left in tears after once again missing out on the final.
In the 50-over World Cup three years ago they narrowly lost to eventual champions England in the last four, and they once again came close here.
They capitalised on Australia’s unusually shaky batting line-up, having Alyssa Healy caught at mid-wicket before fellow opener Beth Mooney was bowled by the excellent Nadine de Klerk.
It was only Lanning who looked comfortable for Australia. She was able to rotate the strike before hitting out with four fours and one six.
De Klerk, recalled in Marizanne Kapp’s absence, was superb, mixing up her pace well to take 3-19, and her performance will be one positive on a heartbreaking night for Van Niekerk’s team.
‘I feel sorry for the Poms’
Australia wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy on TMS: “I thought we might get a 10-over game in, but what a clutch performance with the ball – that was very special.
“We put a half-decent total on the board, Duckworth-Lewis went in our favour but our bowlers were sensational. South Africa would have been licking their lips chasing that total, but we kept our nerve and took wickets at crucial times.”