South Africa arrived at the ICC Women’s World T20 having toured the Caribbean in September, but familiarity with the local conditions wasn’t to help them as they failed to reach the semi-finals, finishing third in Group A.
The tournament began swimmingly for Dane van Niekerk’s side. Led by the bowling partnership of Shabnim Ismail and Marizanne Kapp, South Africa were able to restrict Sri Lanka to 99/8 in their opening game, before Kapp and van Niekerk anchored the chase of 100 to earn a seven-wicket victory.
Ismail’s excellent tournament continued against West Indies, as she picked up 3/12 to help limit the host nation to 107 from their 20 overs. However, an incredible batting collapse saw the South Africans bowled out for just 76 to dampen their semi-final hopes.
The implosion of South Africa’s batting would continue into the crunch game against England, as they crumbled to 85 all out courtesy of an Anya Shrubsole hat-trick and a miserly spell of 3/4 from four overs by Nat Sciver.
England chased down the total with ease to book their place in the semi-finals at the expense of South Africa. Van Niekerk expressed her disappointment after the game, saying: “We owe an apology to our whole county.”
Out of contention for the next round, they were able to gain some consolation from a 30-run win over Bangladesh, as Kapp starred with bat and ball to ensure that her side would leave the Caribbean on a positive note.
Positives to take home
South Africa’s bowling was what proved key in their two victories, with Ismail and van Niekerk picking up six wickets each in the tournament. Ismail’s pace was particularly troublesome for batters, as she picked up consecutive three-wicket hauls against Sri Lanka and West Indies.
Areas to improve
South Africa’s struggles with the bat were evident before the tournament had even begun as they could only score 72/9 and 79/9 against Pakistan and Australia in their warm-up games. Even during their final win over Bangladesh, they collapsed from 60/1 to 107/9.
Much of their hopes were placed on Lizelle Lee at the top of the order, but her four innings were only able to garner 58 runs as South Africa struggled to rack up any substantial innings totals.
While Kapp played a key all-round role in both South African victories, it is hard to look past the performances of Ismail in South Africa's opening two matches. The fast-bowler was a joy to watch as her pace was simply too hot to handle for the Sri Lankan and West Indian batters. The Sri Lankans in particular were exposed by her unerring accuracy, as she rattled the stumps three times with some thunderbolt deliveries.
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