South Africa’s bowlers laid the platform for a comprehensive seven-wicket win over women’s world champions England in the first one-day international at Worcester on Saturday.
Last year, South Africa suffered a heart-breaking World Cup semi-final loss to tournament hosts England, who won by just two wickets with two balls left in Bristol before defeating India in a dramatic final at a packed-out Lord’s.
But there was no repeat on Saturday as England — who won the toss — slumped to 97 for eight.
South Africa seamers Shabnim Ismail and Ayabonga Khaka took three wickets apiece.
Katherine Brunt, however, ensured she and her fellow England bowlers would have some sort of target to defend by making 72 off 98 balls as the home side rallied to 189 for nine.
But Lizelle Lee’s unbeaten 92 sealed South Africa’s victory in the first of this three-match series.
South Africa also suffered a collapse at five for two.
Brunt bowled Laura Wolvaardt and Sune Luus was sharply stumped by England wicket-keeper Sarah Taylor.
But a third-wicket stand of 113 between opener Lee and South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk (58) all but put the result beyond doubt.
Lee faced 128 balls, including 11 fours and two sixes.
“We saw in the morning that there was a bit of swing and movement in the air and the bowlers really worked hard on moving the ball,” delighted skipper van Niekerk told Sky Sports as last year’s tears after the semi-final loss were replaced by smiles.
“After Katherine’s really good knock we were a bit down because we felt that we could have bowled them out for 120. The wicket got better and the batters were excited going out there.”
But a disappointed Brunt, who thought she had caught Lee only for the umpires to rule the chance was not taken cleanly, told BBC Sport: “It’s really gutting to lose like that because we’re a much better team than we showed.
“We played a few soft shots and were on the back foot from the beginning. Congratulations to them, they played really well.”
Victory gave South Africa a second sporting triumph against England on Saturday after the Springboks, the men’s rugby union team, beat their English visitors 42-39 at Johannesburg in the first of a three-Test series. – AFP