South Africa 164-4 (20 overs): Brits 68 (55), Wolvaardt 54 (44); Ecclestone 3-22
England 158-8 (20 overs): N Sciver-Brunt 40 (34); Khaka 4-29, Ismail 3-27
South Africa won by six runs

England were knocked out of the Women’s T20 World Cup after inspired hosts South Africa won a gripping semi-final by six runs.

Chasing 165 to win, England were cruising at 132-3 before Nat Sciver-Brunt’s dismissal for 40 sparked a collapse of five wickets for 26 runs in 22 balls.

With 13 runs needed from the final over, Shabnim Ismail held her nerve to bowl England captain Heather Knight for 31 and seal a thrilling victory in front of a packed Cape Town crowd.

The Proteas face defending champions Australia in the final at Newlands on Sunday.

They are the first South Africa side, either men’s or women’s, to reach a cricket World Cup final in any format.

It was a thriller that England probably should have won, but were left to rue a frustrated and sloppy performance in the field that saw South Africa post an imposing 164-5, ultimately leaving them too much to do with the bat.

Ragged England’s dream is over

England came into the game as clear favourites, having won all four of the group matches convincingly, while they also swept the Proteas 3-0 in both the one-day international and T20 series in England last year.

They started strongly in reply but South Africa’s total gave them little room for error and though England were never out of the chase until the final over, the momentum they had earned in this tournament was gone.

Shabnim Ismail took two wickets in the sixth over, with Alice Capsey falling to a spectacular one-handed catch by Brits – one of four takes by the player of the match.

Once Nat Sciver-Brunt picked out a fielder in the deep, the task proved too great for Knight and England’s lower order, the last pair of Charlie Dean and Sarah Glenn sinking to their knees in devastation as Newlands erupted in joy for South Africa’s history-makers.

England’s run in the World Cup was based on controlled aggression, playing with freedom, a focus on positivity.

But it came to an end in the opposite fashion, a batting collapse preceded by a negative and sour end to the first innings.

Favourites falter in the field

After conceding just 14 from the first four overs, England squandered a positive start as openers Laura Wolvaardt, who made 54 before falling to Ecclestone, and Brits added 96 for the first wicket.

Knight turned to her spinners early, but the Proteas opening pair tucked in, scoring freely and taking the attack to a bowling unit that was used to tying teams in knots.

As South Africa moved past 120-1 in the 16th over, England became increasingly ragged, under pressure for the first time in the tournament after an unbeaten four-match run, as misfields and impatience crept in.

After Lauren Bell removed the superb Tamzin Brits for 68 off 55 balls, Sophie Ecclestone firmly dragged England back into contention with two wickets in penultimate over as she claimed an impressive 3-22.

A visibly frustrated Katherine Sciver-Brunt, who had shouted at team-mates who made mistakes in the field, then conceded 18 off the final over and it proved decisive.

By contrast, South Africa held their nerve impressively – Ismail claiming 3-27 and Ayabonga Khaka taking 4-29, including three in the 18th overs. Fifth bowler Nadine de Klerk got the key wicket of Nat Sciver-Brunt in an economic spell of 1-17.

‘This game doesn’t define us’ – reaction

England captain Heather Knight: “I’m obviously gutted but first of all what a brilliant game of cricket. We did well to take it close

“South Africa had a very good plan with their bowling, they bowled straight lines and made it tough for us, and we probably conceded too many runs but this game doesn’t define us as a group.

“There is a huge amount of talent. We tried to entertain and we certainly did that. We will come back stronger.”

South Africa captain Sune Luus: “It was a great match. We were out of it, in it, out of it, in it again.

“It is massive. Every game we play we keep making history. I hope this is a turning point not just women’s cricket in South Africa but women’s sport in general.”

Former England spinner Alex Hartley on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra: “England are entertaining and have unbelievable talent.

“The youth that are coming through stands out for me. They are going to be such a talented group of cricketers in a few years. Because they already are and they’re just going to get better.”

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