Women's T20 World Cup 2023: South Africa's road to maiden finale

South African team reached the final despite losing two of their four group-stage matches, while Australia remained unbeaten.

By Sumeet Kavthale

Updated - Feb 26, 2023, 17:45 IST

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South African team beat one of the favourites, England, in the second semi-final of the ongoing Women's T20 World Cup 2023 to reach their first ICC final. Both Australia and South Africa have played each other in only six T20Is and all came in World Cup tournaments. Australia remain favorites without a doubt, however South Africa's fightback against England suggests a mouth-watering clash at the Newlands, Cape Town on February 28, 2023.

Despite playing in home conditions, the Proteas were never tipped to reach the final, especially after losing the opener against Sri Lanka. But having seem their performance in the semi-final, one can say that they deserved to play the final. It is of no surprise that seeing Australia's name for the seventh time in eight editions, it won't be a surprise if they lift the trophy again.

South Africa in the final with a bit of luck

The hosts were placed in Group 1 with Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh and had a shocking start to their campaign. Their early struggles were out in the open as they fell three runs short while chasing only 129 against Sri Lanka in their opening fixture.

However, they balanced their run with a dominating 65-run win against the White Ferns in their second game, and that made the race for the second spot interesting. Chloe Tryon's 40 off 34 helped them score 132 and then Nonkululeko Mlaba took 3/10 to bowl out Sophie Devine-led side for just 67.

Sri Lanka won their second straight game and emerged as favorites for the semi-final spot as New Zealand lost their opening two matches. Things further worsened for South Africa as they lost against mighty Australians in their third game. New Zealand won their last two games against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh by a big margin to jump to second place prior to South Africa's last game against Bangladesh.

South Africa managed to pull off a win with ten wickets to spare, and beat Bangladesh to grab for the second spot over the White Ferns owing to a better net run rate (NRR). They faced England in the semi-final who dominated Group 2 with four wins in four games. The game turned out as one of the most entertaining clashes in the tournament as the Proteas posted 164 runs with Wolvaardt and Brits scoring fifties.

England remained favourites in their chase with a fifty-plus stand for the opening wicket, but Ayabonga Khaka and Shabnim Ismail changed the momentum with seven wickets between them to restrict them to 158. The win opened the door to the first-ever ICC finals in the history for South Africa.

Laura Wolvaardt ended her poor run of form with a fifty while Marizanne Kapp took 2/17 in the Proteas' win over Bangladesh. Wolvaardt's back-to-back fifties after scoring just 50 runs in the first three games is one of the biggest reasons in South Africa's run to the final. Brits is leading the scoring chart for her team and fourth overall, with 176 runs in five innings including two fifties in the last two games.

However, the bowlers, especially pacers, deserve credit for the team's journey to the final. With Khaka's four wickets in the penultimate clash, she and Kapp have taken 14 wickets between them before the final. South Africa will be looking forward to add more in the summit clash on Sunday.

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