Recent Match Report – AUS WMN vs SA WMN Final 2022/23

Recent Match Report - AUS WMN vs SA WMN Final 2022/23

Australia 156 for 6 (Mooney 74*, Ismail 2-26, Kapp 2-35) beat South Africa 137 for 6 (Wolvaardt 61, Tryon 25, Gardner 1-20) by 19 runs

Let no one influence you into believing this was a choke.

Truth be told, this was a game of high-intensity cricket, fitting of a grand finale. The pressure was immense, and Australia, more skilled and adept at handling big-match temperament – this was their seventh straight final – came up triumphs to clinch their sixth T20 World Cup title and their third in a row.

If anyone needed more validation that this is the best women’s cricket team in the planet, it couldn’t have been delivered more convincingly. Australia made 156 seem like 180, before their bowlers stood tall on the face of a late assault from Laura Wolvaardt that threatened to take the game away.

South Africa needed 59 off 30 balls at one stage, with Woolvardt pumping a packed Newlands crowd with some of the most aesthetically-pleasing shots. Then, much to their agony, she swiped across the line to a full delivery from Megan Schutt and was trapped lbw. South African hearts sank, a teary Woolvardt trudged off slowly, and boisterous applause gave way to stunned silence.

Australia believed and Australia delivered.

For South Africa, it was a case of being so near, yet so far. However, even in defeat, Sune Luus & co had done what no other South African senior team – men or women – had done: compete in a world final. This was as bittersweet as it could get.

Dangerous Healy falls early

Four overs in, this seemed a proper arm-wrestle with neither side catching the game by the scruff of its neck. The first signs of drama, that wouldn’t abate for the rest of the evening, came in the fifth over when Alyssa Healy bludgeoned a boundary down the ground, and then saw Marizanne Kapp roar with her wicket to finish the over. That wicket – brought about by spongy bounce that had Healy slicing an attempted cut to cover – laid down a marker: that hit-the-deck stuff was going to be harder to hit than fuller deliveries. Shabnim Ismail then closed off the first six overs with a maiden to have Australia 36 for 1, their slowest powerplay of the tournament.
Sent in ahead of Meg Lanning, Ashleigh Gardner offset any little pressure there may have been on Australia with a fierce counterattack. Two back-to-back fours off left-arm spinner Nonkululeko Mlaba were followed by back-to-back sixes off Nadine de Klerk, shots that were possible courtesy outstanding footwork and a solid hitting base that allowed her to get underneath proper length deliveries. The attack put the pressure right back on South Africa. And just when Australia were beginning to exert their dominance, Chloe Tryon deceived Gardner in flight to have her caught at long-off for a rampaging 21-ball 29. At 82 for 2 in the 12th, Australia were still in control.

Mooney keeps calm, bats through

It didn’t take long for Beth Mooney to recalibrate her approach. This wasn’t a surface where she could fearlessly belt the ball. Manufacturing shots weren’t easy due to the slowness; this was the same deck on which both semi-finals were played. But she quietly slipped into the role of an accumulator, allowing the others to take charge, without allowing dot-ball pressure to creep up. As her innings progressed, Mooney manipulated the fields expertly. Traps set for the scoop at short fine leg were just traps, as Mooney reverse-scooped over vacant short third in picking crucial boundaries to ensure Australia didn’t lose momentum.

Ellyse Perry, Grace Harris and Lanning fed off this confidence, knowing they had insurance in the form of Mooney, to play their shots. While Ismail returned to pick up two wickets in the final over and concede just two off her last four deliveries, Australia had put up a formidable score. Mooney finished with an unbeaten 53-ball 74, her second straight half-century in a world tournament final.

South Africa’s slow powerplay

South Africa needed a big powerplay to allay some of their nerves that had been a constant feature, and understandably so, right through the game. They limped to 22 for the loss of Tazmin Brits in the powerplay, and allowed stage fright to gnaw at them slowly. It was a bizarre passage too. South Africa had an lbw reprieve, there were mis-hits, tight bowling and uncharacteristic misfields. The asking rate jumped past 10 and the heat was on.

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