On a balmy, breezy evening in the West Indies, a hat trick from Anya Shrubsole helped England qualify for the semi-finals of the World Twenty20, as they knocked out South Africa with a convincing seven wicket win.
Shrubsole herself was typically self-deprecating, describing her hat trick as “a couple of slower balls that gripped and then one that hit the stumps”, but it was the icing on the cake of a tight bowling performance which simply stifled the Women Proteas.
Things actually hadn’t got off to the best of starts for Shrubsole. Her first ball was a trademark inswinger that hit opener Lizelle Lee on the pads. The umpire’s ruling of Not Out was immediately queried by Shrubsole, using the Decision Review System introduced into the women’s game for the first time in this tournament; but HawkEye showed the ball missing by a mile to uphold the original verdict and lose England their one review.
“It ended up being a terrible review,” admitted Shrubsole. “But DRS is new to everyone and we are getting used to it.”
Fortunately Shrubsole didn’t let it upset her - her second over was a maiden as she maintained the tightest of lines to Lee, who looked a different player from the one who scored a match-winning century for Surrey Stars in the Kia Super League final back in August.
Lee’s captain that day, Nat Sciver, eventually put her out of her misery - LBW for just 12 off 26 balls, with South Africa limping at 27-2.
Bad became worse for South Africa as Kirstie Gordon tempted Marizanne Kapp into a big shot which was caught at long off; before getting a bit lucky to run out South African skipper Dane van Niekerk, deflecting a straight drive back onto the stumps at the non-strikers end.
Only Chloe Tryon offered a bit of resistance for South Africa - hitting Linsey Smith for two sixes in an over to reach 27 off 28 balls, before she became the first victim of a double-wicket maiden bowled by Sciver, who finished with figures of 3-4.
“Nat was outstanding today,” said Shrubsole. “We’ve always known that she is capable of this - she has shown it with the bat in the past, and she is showing it with the ball now in this tournament.”
With Shrubsole’s hat trick accounting for the last three wickets, South Africa were bowled out for just 85 in the final over.
Having wobbled against Sri Lanka earlier in the week, Danni Wyatt and Tammy Beaumont came out playing positive cricket and quickly put any doubts about the result to rest. The opening pair rapidly took England to 55-0 - taking on the fielders with quick singles and threading the gaps to find the boundary.
Although neither went the distance - Wyatt bowled ramping and Beaumont caught in the deep - they had broken the back of the chase, leaving Amy Jones and Heather Knight to canter home in the 14th over with plenty of gas left in the tank.
England are now assured of a trip to Antigua for the semi-finals, thanks to West Indies riotous victory over Sri Lanka in the second game; but they still have to play the hosts on Sunday to determine who tops their group and they aren’t looking any further than that yet.
“Momentum is a huge thing in Twenty20 cricket,” said Shrubsole. “It’s nice to have one foot in the semi-finals, but we want to come out here and put in a really good performance against West Indies on Sunday and then we’ll start to look to Antigua.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies