South Africa bounced back from their dual-shellacking in the first round of the T20 tri-series in the week by recording only their second 20-over victory against England, winning a closely contested game at Taunton in the final over thanks to Sune Luus’ unbeaten 63.
There were fewer records broken on Saturday, in the first match of the double-header that will this time see England asked to turn out twice, but South Africa’s successful chase of 161 was their highest in T20 internationals. Luus was the hero, hitting 4-4-6 from the first three balls of the final over – which began with South Africa needing nine runs to win – but their innings was underpinned by another aggressive salvo from Lizelle Lee, who smashed six sixes in her 68 from 37 balls.
Three days after racking up a world-record 250 for 3 on the ground, England failed to spark in the same manner (there were no sixes in their innings), although they did appear to have posted a competitive total thanks to another vital contribution from Tammy Beaumont, with 71 off 59. However, a poor fielding effort, including numerous dropped catches, undermined their defence.
South Africa’s chase got off to a bad start with Laura Wolvaardt bowled by Anya Shrubsole’s fourth ball, but that brought Lee and Luus together for a stand ultimately worth 103. Luus had made scores of 0, 2, 0, 0 and 3 not out in her five previous innings on tour, and would not have been at No. 3 had Stacy Lackay been available, but she played a superbly judged innings alongside the more explosive Lee to put South Africa on track.
Luus should have gone on 25, when she pushed a low caught-and-bowled back to Jenny Gunn, who then saw Lee dropped, on 24, later in the same over by Beaumont at backward point. That was one of three clear chances off Lee, with Shrubsole twice unable to hold on to catches coming in off the rope – the most straightforward a chance at deep midwicket the ball after Lee had gone to 50 with a six off Katherine Brunt.
Lee had greeted Brunt at the start of the innings with a leg-side flick that flew all the way, and she cleared midwicket again to leave South Africa 50 for 1 from the Powerplay. Luus also hit Danielle Hazell over the ropes, as South Africa got on top of the run rate.
Having cruised to a 29-ball half-century, Lee then took back-to-back sixes off Sophie Ecclestone before finally holing out to the midwicket boundary off Shrubsole at the start of the 13th over, leaving South Africa needing 52 from 47 deliveries.
England managed to squeeze the required run rate again, with Luus dropping anchor and Dane van Niekerk looking to pilfer boundaries. The 16th over, bowled by Brunt, went for just two runs and Ecclestone then removed van Niekerk and Chloe Tryon in the space of five balls, leaving South Africa needing 17 from 12. But Nat Sciver dropped Mignon du Preez at midwicket, and then missed with an attempt to run out Luus next ball as England unravelled again.