England’s women were dealt a reality check ahead of next month’s World T20 when they slipped to a 17-run Duckworth-Lewis defeat to South Africa at Newlands here in Cape Town.
The result was a chastening one for England, who had never previously lost a T20 international to their hosts.
Charlotte Edwards’ team, who last summer became the first women’s international team to go fully professional, had won the opening match of this series by 15 runs in Paarl on Thursday.
But after failing to defend a total of 156 for 6 in a game twice interrupted by rain, England face a decider against South Africa in Johannesburg tomorrow.
That match at The Wanderers, just like this one in Cape Town, will be the first part of a double-header played before the men contest the second of their two T20s. South Africa’s women will surely be hopeful of winning the series after batting so well here.
The hosts were always ahead of the rate thanks to the flying start given to them by Dane van Niekerk, who rode her luck after being dropped three times but played a high-tempo innings of 63 from 43 balls, including two sixes.
Van Niekerk departed in the 13th over, stumped by Sarah Taylor off the slow left-arm bowling of Rebecca Grundy. But Mignon du Preez picked up from where her team-mate had left off, hitting an unbeaten 47 from 41 balls to guide South Africa to 145 for 3 by the time the second, and match-ending, shower fell.
The Duckworth Lewis par score at that stage was 130 and with just 12 needed from 16 balls, there was no doubt South Africa would have cruised to victory had the rain stayed away. England have been runners-up in the past two World T20s and are regarded as second-favourites for the tournament behind Australia, who won last summer’s Ashes series.
Key to their hopes will be Taylor, who followed up her unbeaten 74 in the opening match in Paarl with 66 here yesterday. Taylor this winter became the first woman to play men’s grade cricket in Australia.
Yet Taylor and England’s other batters need some help from the bowlers, who underperformed badly in this match.
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