Ireland Women falls apart after starting well to go down by 86 runs in their ICC Women’s World T20 game
South Africa blasted its way to 165 for 5 on the back of a late surge by Chloe Tyron and Sune Luus, who put on 63 off just 24 balls. In reply, Ireland limped to 79 for 9 in 15.1 overs, with Cecelia Joyce, who split the webbing on her left hand while fielding, not coming out to bat.
Shabnim Ismal, the South Africa pacer, exposed the technical deficiencies of Ireland in a spell of top-class fast bowling to finish with figures of 3 for 5 in three overs. The escalating asking rate only compounded Ireland's woes as it was consigned to its third straight loss.
The toss once again went against Ireland, which had conceded totals of 171 and 191 in its previous matches. While the bowlers looked in much better rhythm to begin with, the South African openers – Dane van Niekerk and Lizelle Lee – denied them an early breakthrough.
The two slowly built the innings with a 57-run opening stand before Kate McKenna's screamer at deep mid-wicket accounted for van Niekerk, who made 25. McKenna, who had dropped Lee two balls earlier, initially misjudged the catch before regaining her composure and timing her jump well to pull off the catch with the ropes literally a few inches behind.
Three overs later, Lee walked back as she was bowled attempting an ungainly slog off Isobel Joyce, the captain. It came as temporary relief against the run of play as the chirp was back in the Irish camp. Isobel, the left-arm spinner, and Amy Kenealy, the medium pacer, kept the runs under check and, in the process, had their rewards as Mignon du Preez and Marizanne Kapp soon fell to give Ireland hope.
What was to follow, though, was a blitzkrieg no one saw coming. Tyron, promoted up the order to wield the long handle, and Luus got stuck into the bowling. Tyron smashed three fours and two sixes in the 18th over as Eimear Richardson, the offspinner, who had acceptable figures of 1 for 18 from her three overs before that one, finished with 1 for 44.
It was then Elina Tice's turn to come under the hammer in the next over as Luus smashed her for three boundaries and a fierce pull that landed in the grass banks beyond the deep-midwicket fence. The momentum had swung South Africa's way within the blink of an eye.
Ireland's reply wasn't off on the most auspicious note as Clare Shillington fell off the fifth ball of the innings, done in by a peach from Ismail that nipped back in from outside off to hit middle stump.
Mary Waldron, the vice-captain, and Isobel then played some impressive strokes in a stand of 40, but once they were gone, the innings fell apart. To her credit, du Preez quickly brought on Ismail, her trump card, perhaps in an effort to win big to boost the net run-rate, and she wasn't let down. Ismail deceived Tice with an off-cutter that hit off stump and, three balls later, Richardson was yorked by a full straight delivery.
The last three wickets fell over the course of the next 14 balls as South Africa reinforced its dominance and walked off the park knowing it had given itself a shot at a maiden semi-final appearance.