Five key fours clinch it

Tay­lor’s sweetly-timed bound­aries help Eng­land blow South Africa out the park

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - ZAAHIER ADAMS

IF there was one over in this ICC Women’s World Cup con­test that ac­cu­rately re­flected the gulf be­tween these two teams it was the 40th over of the English in­nings.

South Africa’s cap­tain Dane van Niek­erk had called on her chief strike weapon Shab­nim Is­mail to re­strict the hosts’ charge dur­ing the death overs. At the other end was Eng­land’s star bat­ter Sarah Tay­lor, who’d just reached her sixth ODI cen­tury, wait­ing for the chal­lenge.

Five con­sec­u­tive sweetly-timed bound­aries later from Tay­lor and South Africa were blown out of the park. It was sub­lime bat­ting from the Eng­land wicket-keeper, who vir­tu­ally hand-picked her ar­eas.

To South Africa’s credit, they pro­duced a spir­ited run­chase but Eng­land’s 373/5 was al­ways go­ing to be a bridge too far. The match was lost in the field, where the Proteas’ much-hyped bowl­ing at­tack sim­ply failed to ad­just to the con­di­tions. Un­like the pre­vi­ous match at Le­ices­ter, when the pace bowlers blew away the West Indies un­der cloudy skies on a green-tinged pitch, the con­di­tions at the County Ground in Bris­tol were vastly dif­fer­ent.

It was near-per­fect day with the sun bak­ing down on a hard sur­face tailor-made for stroke play­ers such as Tay­lor (147 off 104 balls) and Tammy Beau­mont (148 off 145 balls). The English pair’s record 275 for the sec­ond wicket ul­ti­mately proved to be a match-winning con­tri­bu­tion.

In the same way Tay­lor and Beau­mont used a 360-de­gree ap­proach to bat­ting, hauling out the re­verse-sweep and switch hit to au­da­cious ef­fect, the con­di­tions called on the SA bowlers to pro­duce a “Plan B”.

Of­ten the seam­ers sim­ply tried to hit the deck back of a length or at­tempted to use con­ven­tional away-swing when vari­a­tions such as cross-seam de­liv­er­ies or cut­ters were re­quired to stem the run flow.

It will cer­tainly be a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for Van Niek­erk and her bowl­ing unit.

“All credit to Tammy and Sarah. They bat­ted us out of the game. Hind­sight is al­ways not the best thing to have. I would prob­a­bly have bowled my­self and Sune (Loos) more, we took too long to adapt to these con­di­tions. We re­ally stuck to our plans.

“We thought 280-300 would be a good score. We got past 300, which was great, but 370 was too big a score,” Van Niek­erk said af­ter the 68-run de­feat.

Equally, the bat­ters would have learnt they are ca­pa­ble of chas­ing down scores in ex­cess of 300 against the higher-ranked teams. South Africa have two qual­ity open­ers in Lizelle Lee (72 off 77 balls) and Laura Wolvaardt (67 off 103 balls). The pair put on 128 for the first wicket – their sec­ond cen­tury stand of the World Cup in ad­di­tion to their un­bro­ken 50-run stand against the Windies – and re­ally have the po­ten­tial to get South Africa off to solid starts on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

The only crit­i­cism of the duo was that their part­ner­ship was prob­a­bly too slow yes­ter­day, largely due to seek­ing bound­aries when the reg­u­lar ro­ta­tion of the strike was re­quired be­tween the big shots.

South Africa also have some classy play­ers in the mid­dle and lower-or­der with the po­ten­tial to do some real dam­age.

Former cap­tain Mignon du Preez (43 off 39 balls) and Chloe Ty­ron (54 off 26 balls) pro­vided a glim­mer of hope with a breezy 75-run part­ner­ship, with Ty­ron in par­tic­u­lar tak­ing the at­tack to the English.

South Africa are still wellplaced to reach the semi-fi­nals, but the com­pe­ti­tion only gets tougher from here with de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Aus­tralia and In­dia lurk­ing around the cor­ner.

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