The Proteas Women, the first-ever South African side to appear in an ICC World Cup final, fell short by 19 runs in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup showpiece match against eventual champions Australia in front of a record crowd at the Newlands Cricket Ground in Cape Town on Sunday.
Beth Mooney smashed an unbeaten 74* off 53 deliveries, including nine fours and a six, to inspire the Aussies to an imposing total of 156 / 6 before a third consecutive half-century from opening batter Laura Wolvaardt worth 61 off 48 balls was made in vain as the hosts were held to 137 / 6 in their allotted 20 overs.
After winning the toss and electing to bat first, Australia made a typically comfortable start at the crease, as the defending champions shut out the raucous noise from the Newlands faithful in the opening stages before Marizanne Kapp ( 2 / 35) made the breakthrough to get rid of Alyssa Healy (18).
Despite losing one half of the explosive opening duo, Australia managed to maintain and even better their scoring rate as they went from being 36 / 1 at the end of the powerplay before accelerating to 76 / 1 after 10 overs, with Mooney and Ashleigh Gardner (29) upping the ante out in the middle.
South Africa eventually found their groove back in the field and with the ball as Chloé Tryon (1 / 15) picked up the scalp of Gardner before Nonkululeko Mlaba (1 / 24) found her way through the defences of Grace Harris (10) to leave the visitors 103 / 3 in the 15th over.
Although Mooney lost partners at the other end, the experienced batter marched to her 18th career T20I fifty as she played leading roles in partnerships with Meg Lanning (10) and Ellyse Perry (7), before the now six-time champions set South Africa a challenging target for victory.
Veteran fast bowler, Shabnim Ismail produced the best figures for a South African bowler on the day, taking two wickets for 26 runs, to also become the leading wicket-taker in the history of the Women’s T20 World Cup.
Needing 157 to clinch their maiden World Cup trophy, South Africa suffered an early blow in their chase as the in-form Tazmin Brits (10) was caught out in the fifth over off the bowling of Darcie Brown (1 / 25) as the home side reached the end of their powerplay on 22 / 1 after six overs.
With the scoreboard pressure mounting, Wolvaardt stood tall and led from the front to bring up her eighth T20I half-century, her third in a row at her home ground of Newlands, as she smashed three sixes and five fours despite losing Kapp (11) and Suné Luus (2) at the other end in the process.
Wolvaardt then found a willing partner in all-rounder Tryon (25, as the pair added a crucial 54 runs for the fourth wicket to keep the host nation in the contest before the Australians made vital inroads in the South African batting order, removing both Wolvaardt and Tryon in quick succession.
With the run-rate near the 20-run mark ahead of the final two overs, South Africa eventually succumbed to a 19-run defeat as Australia claimed their sixth T20 World Cup title while South Africa end the eventful tournament as proud runners-up following their first final on home soil.
Wolvaardt ended the competition as the leading run-scorer after her three back-to-back fifties, notching up 230 runs in six innings at an average of 46.00.
Momentum Proteas 15 player squad for ICC Women’s T20 World Cup South Africa 2023:
Suné Luus (Titans) (Captain), Chloé Tryon (Dolphins) (Vice-Captain), Anneke Bosch (North West Dragons), Tazmin Brits (Garden Route Badgers), Nadine de Klerk (Western Province), Annerie Dercksen (Garden Route Badgers), Lara Goodall (Western Province), Shabnim Ismail (Dolphins), Sinalo Jafta (Western Province), Marizanne Kapp (Eastern Province), Ayabonga Khaka (Lions), Masabata Klaas (North West Dragons), Nonkululeko Mlaba (Dolphins), Delmi Tucker (Western Province), Laura Wolvaardt (Western Province)
Australia players celebrate with the trophy after winning the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final match between Australia and South Africa at Newlands Cricket Ground on February 26, 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Gallo)