Women's T20 World Cup

Battle of the spinners: World’s top three bowlers to duke it out in second semi-final

Women's T20 World Cup

By Tom Bennett

Hit For Six!

One particular element of the meeting between England and South Africa in the second ICC Women’s T20 World Cup semi-final will be key.

And that is how the respective batting line-ups will deal with facing the best spin bowlers in the world.

Newlands will host the top three ranked Women's T20I bowlers on the planet in Friday’s second semi-final, as England and South Africa fight it out to join Australia in Sunday’s final.

Slotted in at number two in the MRF Tyres ICC Women’s T20I Bowling Rankings is South Africa’s rising star Nonkululeko Mlaba.

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Third in that list is one of England’s three-pronged spin attack, Sarah Glenn.

But topping the charts is England’s star Sophie Ecclestone – who also sits at the summit of the ODI Bowling Rankings.

“I absolutely love playing T20 World Cups,” Ecclestone told the ICC earlier in the tournament. “It’s my favourite format of the game and I think I excel in these competitions.”

And she certainly has excelled so far in South Africa, picking up eight wickets and returning the second-best economy rate of any bowler at the tournament (behind Grace Harris).

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“Wow has she lived up to the billing of number one T20I bowler in the world,” ICC Digital Insider Alex Jordan said in the #TurnItUp Preview show.

“And let’s not forget that she’s got a six-for against this side at Hadlee Park at the ICC Women’s World Cup last year.”

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And former England international Ebony Rainford-Brent added: “What I’ve really liked about Ecclestone in this tournament, where spin has really come into play and England have been able to use all three, is Ecclestone just leads it.

“She dries up runs in the middle, she’s probing at the stumps. And when it gets to the crunch stages is where she’s going to step up – she’s going to have a gameplan, she’s going to be dangerous.”

How South Africa deal with England's spinning triumvirate of Ecclestone, Glenn and Charlie Dean will be crucial to their hopes of reaching Sunday’s final.

But the Proteas have a spinning threat of their own, with the exciting Mlaba already having lit up the tournament.

The 22-year-old has been a go-to wicket-taking option for the tournament hosts at the World Cup, often utilised in the Powerplay, sometimes even taking the first over.

And Mlaba has shown the ability to get top players out, with Meg Lanning and Suzie Bates among her scalps at the tournament so far.

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Her brilliant 3/10 against New Zealand effectively decided the game, and it was that win that ultimately proved sufficient to send her side through.

Mlaba removed both openers for ducks in her first two overs of the match, and did not concede a single boundary across her four overs.

Making inroads into England’s powerful batting line-up is going to be crucial for South Africa’s chances. And having Mlaba in the team’s armoury most certainly doesn’t hurt their ability to pull that off.

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