Mignon du Preez celebrated her 100th T20I appearance in style by crossing two consecutive borders to help South Africa kick off the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup against England.
Nat Sciver’s half-century was in vain at WACA when England lost to South Africa for the first time in the 20-over tournament.
A three-wicket train from Ayabonga Khaka and two each for Dane van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp prevented Lisa Keightley’s team from gaining momentum with the bat. And the pairing of Van Niekerk and Kapp shone again on the fold and laid the foundation stone for Chloe Tryon (12) and du Preez (18 *) with 84 points to end the victory in an exciting finish in Perth.
Amy Jones got England into high gear in the first three overs with four boundaries, but Kapp made sure that her stint was short-lived when Tryon got the start in the middle for 23 minutes. It wasn’t long before the Proteas struck again when Danni Wyatt was released for 2 of Khaka’s first ball of the tournament, Lizelle Lee, with the catch at the backward point.
England’s striking problems continued with the introduction of van Niekerk’s Spin. The South African captain fired Heather Knight, who tried to exaggerate her to be brilliantly caught by Shabnim Ismail for a long time.
The medium-order pairing between Sciver and Fran Wilson was under pressure to accelerate the innings, but only managed to get to 72 before Wilson was released, similar to Knight, to give van Niekerk numbers 2/20.
Sciver’s 50 helped England get three numbers, but from then on the doors quickly fell and Katherine Brunt died before Khaka defeated the top scorer.
There were two quick scalps for Khaka within the over when Tryon made a sharp catch to fire Lauren Winfield before Kapp returned with a final blow to catch Tammy Beaumont lbw and stop England at 123/8.
England compensated for the late wicket crumble by inflicting damage on its opponents early on. Lee died for four when he tossed Anya Shrubsole in a circle right after Winfield.
Kapp and van Niekerk partnered for 84 years for the second wicket to keep the Proteas going, but England managed to increase the required rate. First, Kapp was caught and bowled by Sarah Glenn, the debutant of the T20 Women’s World Cup, for 38 before Beaumont van Niekerk refused a 50 when she caught the skipper with four overs before Ecclestone.
A late attack by Tryon caused a nervous end to WACA, and England might have thought they were safe when Ecclestone’s last delivery overwhelmed them.
But two big goals from du Preez before Brunt sealed the Proteas’ first win over England in the tournament and marked the perfect start to their campaign in Group B.