Women’s T20 World Cup: England suffer narrow defeat by South Africa in Perth

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England suffered a tense six-wicket defeat against South Africa as their Women’s T20 World Cup campaign began with a narrow loss in Perth.

South Africa, chasing 124, were 85-1 with five overs to go but lost Dane van Niekerk (46) and Marizanne Kapp (36) in the space of five balls.

When Chloe Tryon fell, it left them needing nine runs from the last over.

But Mignon du Preez struck Katherine Brunt for a six to level the scores, before a boundary secured a fine win.

Brunt thrashed the stumps in annoyance after her final delivery, while South Africa’s players raced on to the pitch to congratulate Du Preez.

It is the first time South Africa have beaten England at a T20 World Cup, and shows how much their batting has improved since the previous tournament.

This loss will sting for England, who showed some real grit to rein the game back in, but South Africa were rewarded for limiting England to 123-8 from their 20 overs, despite Natalie Sciver’s 50.

  • No panic for England, says Knight
  • Relive South Africa’s tense win with in-play highlights
  • T20 World Cup – fixtures, results, reports and scorecards

Close, but not close enough, for England

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England’s bowlers controlled the rate for much of South Africa’s chase but, ultimately, they did not have enough runs to defend.

The hard-hitting Van Niekerk and Kapp, who added 84 for the second wicket, looked to be taking the Proteas home. But a fine catch from Sarah Glenn in her follow-through dismissed Kapp, before Tammy Beaumont snaffled a leading edge from Van Niekerk to put England on top.

Tryon is known as a big hitter and she smashed spinner Sophie Ecclestone, easily England’s best bowler with 2-19, for six before Ecclestone bowled her with her final delivery.

It was Du Preez, playing in her 100th T20 international, who provided the cool head South Africa needed.

Her 18 from 11 balls was enough to see South Africa home – and leave England with a tough loss to start their campaign.

Batting problems continue

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England have not won this tournament since the inaugural World T20 in 2009, and they will know that their batting needs to improve.

Sciver was the only batter who could find any rhythm. She hit the sole six of England’s innings and her half-century, from 40 balls, was as well-timed as any.

There were starts – including for Amy Jones, who raced to 23 inside the first four overs before spooning a catch to mid-off – and the odd cameo, but England never found any real fluency.

They fell trying to force the rate, with both Heather Knight and Fran Wilson caught going down the ground, and too many of the middle order hit a boundary and then got out.

England’s fielding also let them down – Jones missed a stumping in the final overs while Lauren Winfield twice missed chances in the deep.

After Australia’s opening defeat by India, England knew a win here would send a statement to the rest of the tournament, but they were unable to close it out.

South Africa have only reached the knockout stages once in six editions of the tournament – and this is one of their finest wins.

The bowling may have some weaknesses, particularly their spinner, but they outfielded England and ultimately outbatted them.

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‘I was nervous since two days ago’ – what they said

England all-rounder Natalie Sciver, on the prospect of having to win their three remaining games: “It puts the pressure on, doesn’t it? I think, in terms of our team, a bit of pressure will hopefully see the best of us.

“We’ve got a couple of games in Canberra to hopefully get used to the wicket. Hopefully we can go out there and play positively and play with freedom.

“Sometimes in the first game you have a few nerves around – I was nervous since two days ago, watching the first game, so yeah, nerves can be good, but they can also be bad sometimes.”

South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk: “England are some of the best players of spin in the world, but we spoke a lot about our planning and it is nice when that comes together.

“It was a team performance today. I was batting very slow and I felt like I let the team down. I tried to take it deep. Mignon, Chloe and Sune were brilliant.”

Former England all-rounder Nicky Shaw on BBC Test Match Special: “It was England’s to win – and four massive sixes by the South African girls has been the difference.

“The improvement in South Africa’s players in the last few years has been because they’ve come to Australia and England, played in the Women’s Big Bash League and the Kia Super League, and been exposed to a higher standard of cricket.”

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