England: 123-8 (20 overs)
South Africa: 127-4 (19.4 overs)
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South Africa completed their first-ever win over England in Women's T20 World Cup history in a final over thriller. Skipper Dane van Niekerk was the star with both bat and ball as the Proteas won by six wickets to get their campaign rolling.
Chasing 124 runs to win, South Africa lost Lizelle Lee early and England sniffed a chance to pick some early wickets. However, Dane van Niekerk came together with the experienced Marizanne Kapp and stitched an important partnership to stabilize their chase. However, things got tight in the end and it was the calmness under pressure of Mignon du Preez that saw South Africa chase down the target with six wickets in hand and two balls to spare.
Earlier, England were put into bat and were not off to the greatest of starts as opener Dnaielle Wyatt was dismissed for just two runs. However, Natalie Sciver kept one end intact with the scoreboard ticking while wickets kept on falling at regular intervals from the other end. Even though Sciver scored a well-deserved half-century, no other England batter showed the composure and the acceleration needed towards the end of the innings and England managed to score just 123-8 off their 20 overs.
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Natalie Sciver's fighting fifty
England were losing wickets at regular intervals and barring opener Amy Ellen Jones' 23, no other batsman except Natalie Sciver looked comfotable at the crease. Sciver weathered the early storm from the South African bowlers and slowly but surely began to build her innings and tried to consolidate England's first innings. Sciver made a fighting half-century off just 41 balls which included 5 fours and a six. Even though she was running out of partners at the other end, she tried her best to help England reach to a score where the bowlers would have something to bowl at.
Dane van Niekerk's all-round show
The South African bowlers were on the money as far as their line and length was concerned and did not let the England batting get any momentum. Ayabonga Khaka was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 3/25. Skipper Dane van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp also chipped in with a couple of wickets each.
With seven runs needed off four balls, South Africa's opening #T20WorldCup clash against England was in the balance.— T20 World Cup (@T20WorldCup) February 23, 2020
A six and a four later, Mignon du Preez, on her 100th T20I appearance, had sealed the game in style.#ENGvSA REPORT 👇https://t.co/COmK4VKLHr
While chasing, South Africa did lose a wicket early but the experienced duo of Dane van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp again stepped up and added 84 runs for the second wicket. Kapp scored 38 off 33 balls which included 6 fours while van Niekerk remained the top-scorer with 46 off 51 balls including 2 fours and 2 sixes. Their partnership provided a solid platform for the likes of Mignon du Preez who provided the finish required for South Africa to win the game.
Van Niekerk was the main reason why South Africa won the game and her figures of 2/20 with the ball and 46 with the bat earned her the player of the match award.
Here were her thoughts after the game -
I believe England play spin very well, so I was nervous coming up against them. It's always nice when the plans work. Credit to the other bowlers as well and really proud of the team performance today. I try to stick to my game plan, thankfully it came off today. At the halfway stage I thought I let the team down by batting very slowly, thankfully I had support in the middle and we managed to take it deep and it was brilliant to see the way Mignon finished. We put in a lot of hardwork to improve our fielding after the recent New Zealand tour. It's crucial to stop those crucial runs and I am proud of the way the team came back.