Women’s T20 World Cup : Tahlia McGrath fires Australia to semi-finals with win over South Africa
Gqeberha (South Africa) : All-rounder Tahlia McGrath’s blistering 57 completed a perfect run through the group stages of the ICC Womens T20 World Cup 2023 for Australia as they beat hosts, South Africa by six wickets to qualify for the semi-finals of the tournament, here.
Coming to the crease with the defending champions under a little bit of pressure chasing South Africa’s 124 for six, McGrath showed no nerves as she and Ashleigh Gardner added 81 runs to take them to the brink.
While McGrath did fall at the death, the job was done by that point, and Australia finished off the comfortable win on Saturday night. With this, Australia won four from four to finish top of Group 1, and will await the final games in Group 2 to find out their semi-final opponent.
South Africa, meanwhile, started both innings strongly in this one, only to fall away, and now face a must-win clash with Bangladesh, while hoping New Zealand beat Sri Lanka and that they finish top of the three-way tie on net run-rate.
After being put in to bat, South Africa made a flying start as Tazmin Brits and Laura Wolvaardt combined to put on 54 runs at a run-a-ball for the opening wicket. Eventually Ellyse Perry had Wolvaardt caught behind for 19 by Beth Mooney, keeping in place of the injured Alyssa Healy.
Marizanne Kapp followed for a duck before Georgia Wareham got the big one when she clean bowled Brits for 45, adding Chloe Tryon in the same over as South Africa suddenly found themselves 77 for four.
A rebuild was required, with Delmi Tucker removed for seven by Megan Schutt as the boundaries dried up. After more than eight overs without finding the ropes, Nadine de Klerk finally did the honours, smashing Schutt for a maximum over long-on before Sune Luus added a four in the final over.
The skipper was bowled by Gardner for 20, De Klerk finishing on 14 not out as they had to settle for 124 for six after such a promising start. That did not feel like enough against this Australia team, although Kapp had Perry caught at slip by Tryon for 11 before Meg Lanning was bowled around her legs for one by Nonkululeko Mlaba in the sixth over.
When Kapp took out Mooney, plumb in front, for 20, Australia were 40 for three and starting to wobble. However, batting depth is the hallmark of this Australian team, and McGrath and Gardner proceeded to settle in before successive boundaries from the former in the tenth over showed their intent to pick up the pace.
From then on, the fours kept coming and the target became easier and easier, with McGrath moving to her half-century from just 29 balls. Three more boundaries off Mlaba took Australia within touching distance, and while she was caught by Wolvaardt off Masabata Klaas trying to finish the job, Grace Harris came in to smash the winning boundary with three and a half overs to spare.
Brief scores: South Africa 124/6 in 20 overs (Tazmin Brits 45, Sune Luus 20; Georgia Wareham 2-18) lost to Australia 125/4 in 16.3 overs (Tahlia McGrath 57, Ashleigh Gardner 28 not out; Marizanne Kapp 2-21) by six wickets.
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