South Africa became the first team to bowl Australia out at the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017, stopping them on 269 in 48.3 overs. Australia, though, turned on a middle-overs squeeze to complete a clinical defence. It extended its unbeaten record against the African side with a 60-run win in their final group stage match at Taunton on Saturday.
The match had little significance for qualification, allowing semi-finalists Australia and South Africa to rest Meg Lanning and Chloe Tryon respectively.
Dane van Niekerk, the tournament’s leading wicket-taker, was South Africa’s best bowler, while her fellow leg-spinner, the young Sune Luus, had five wickets to her name. Fifties from Nicole Bolton, Beth Mooney and the ever reliant Ellyse Perry gave Australia a good total to defend, which it did despite a sparkling 71 from Laura Wolvaardt.
South Africa got off to a brisk start, despite losing Lizelle Lee early. Rachel Haynes, in again from the bench to captain the side, held onto a high catch offered by Lee at mid-off from the bowling of Jess Jonassen.
Wolvaardt’s cover-drives, though, were immaculately timed to scythe through the field. She maintained a good rate of scoring, ensuring her side was ahead of its opponents’ at the same stage. A nudged single through her favourite off-side region brought up her sixth career-fifty in 61 deliveries.
Trisha Chetty, meanwhile, built on from a dropped catch while on 9 to add 67 for the second wicket. A moment of hesitation in running for the second, however, saw her caught short at the batter’s end, and things unravelled for South Africa.
Haynes, who had bowled only six times in ODIs before, introduced her left-arm medium pace into the attack to get the big wickets of Mignon du Preez and Wolvaardt in consecutive overs. Du Preez, looking to punish a first ball loose full toss, mistimed to Ashleigh Gardner, while Wolvaardt too found the same fielder.
Marizanne Kapp, van Niekerk, Luus and Ayabonga Khaka departed in the space of three runs and three overs, through a combination of bad luck, poor shot selection and good bowling.
Perry, bowling her full quota of overs for once, and Jonassen were in the thick of it, taking two wickets each, while Gardner kept up her impressive economy rate. Shabnim Ismail offered token resistance at the end, and was the last wicket to fall off the last ball as South Africa’s innings folded for 210. But the teams were only going through the motions by then.
Earlier, back at the ground where they opened the team’s campaign with a hundred-run stand, Bolton and Mooney added 114 for the first wicket after Australia chose to bat. As is their wont, they ignored the Power Play perks, getting to a steady 40 in the first ten, with 36 dots.
Having got to the drinks break unscathed, the duo looked to open up, with Bolton especially strong in the mid-wicket region. She went past her fifty with a couple of leg side fours off Masabata Klaas. Luus was taken for three boundaries in the next, the last of which helped Mooney join her partner with a 51-ball half-century and take the team past 100 in the 19th over.
Ayabonga Khaka got the first breakthrough, clipping Mooney’s bails with a full and straight delivery. Next over, van Niekerk’s second, Haynes didn’t read one that dipped and stayed on middle, handing the bowler a simple return catch.
A disappointing shot denied Bolton (79) a three-figure score. Advancing to taken on a full toss Luus so temptingly offered, she hit straight to cover to be the young leg-spinner’s first of the day. Off the very next ball, Elyse Villani returned for her second golden duck of the tournament, ambitiously attempting a sweep off a flighted delivery that was full and outside leg, only to be bowled around the leg.
The 67 runs Luus went for in her full quota should be an indication of how erratic she was. She bowled a succession of loopy full tosses, one of which was sent over the long-on ropes for Perry’s only six. Yet, in taking her on, the Australians opened themselves up to risk.
Alyssa Healy, for instance, dispatched her full tosses for three consecutive fours in the 43rd over, before holing out to a juggling Moseline Daniels while attempting a fourth down the ground.
That was the third in a series of wickets as she and van Niekerk halted the Aussie charge after a batting Power Play that yielded 39 and had Klaas sent off the attack for bowling her second shoulder-high no-ball. Perry smacked a short ball from Luus straight to Kapp at mid-wicket; van Niekerk, with a change of ends for her second spell had Alex Blackwell hole out to mid-on.
It was a chance for the Australian middle and lower order to get a hit, but the South African leg-spinners did well to pull things back, allowing just 40 runs after the 40th over. Kapp wrapped up the innings in the 49th over with two wickets in two balls.
Australia finish the group stage second to play India, while South Africa is fourth and will play its semi-final in Bristol against England.