England Women 133 for 6 (Taylor 60, Ismail 3-27) beat South Africa Women 131 for 4 (Lee 69*) by four wickets
South Africa were in early trouble during the deciding match when Anya Shrubsole struck twice in two balls © Getty Images
Sarah Taylor scored a third successive half-century and became the second player after Charlotte Edwards to score 2000 runs in the format as England sealed the three-match series against South Africa 2-1. Taylor anchored a relatively straightforward chase – the first time England have batted second in the series – after captain Edwards opted to bowl first under cloudy skies and England restricted their opposition to 131 for 4.
England took advantage of the swing on offer and reduced South Africa to 6 for 3 in the second over before Mignon du Preez and Lizelle Lee built the recovery. They shared an 89-run stand for the fourth wicket to engineer a strong comeback – Lee’s unbeaten 69 off 61 balls was a career-best – but South Africa’s score on a good pitch and a fast outfield, never looked enough.
South Africa’s problems started early when Tash Farrant, the left-armer making her first appearance in the series, had Trish Chetty stumped down the leg side off a wide. In the next over, Anya Shrubsole found movement and bowled Dane van Niekerk, who was playing in her 50th T20I, and Marizanne Kapp with successive inswinging deliveries. She was not far away from a hat-trick with another full and straight delivery to Lee but a thin inside edge saved the batsman.
Lee kept her composure and rebuilt steadily with her captain, du Preez. They complemented each other well with Lee the aggressor and du Preez the accumulator. The ninth over was the most profitable with Lee taking 15 runs off Jenny Gunn before offering a chance. Lee was on 30 and hit the last ball of the over to long off but Heather Knight could not hold on.
South Africa still had work to do at 49 for 3 at the halfway stage. Du Preez shifted gears and helped by some ordinary fielding from England, started to speed up the scoring rate. South Africa managed 26 runs in three overs before Farrant was brought back to quieten things down.
With not even 100 on the board and only four overs left, South Africa’s urgency grew. Du Preez was run out by a direct hit after a trying to steal a second off a Knight fumble and it was up to Lee to finish strongly. She reached 50 off 51 balls immediately after du Preez was dismissed and played a part in South Africa scoring 35 runs off the last three overs. They still ended with the lowest first-innings score of the series and would have known it would be tough to defend.
England were into their task early when Amy Jones climbed into overpitched deliveries from Shabnim Ismail. She scored 14 runs off the first over before Ismail had her caught behind. But, as was the case in Cape Town when South Africa made the early breakthrough, it brought England’s best pair together but this time it was not for too long. While Taylor scored freely, Edwards could not get away and gifted deep square leg a catch to give South Africa some hope, although with Taylor at the crease, England could always feel safe.
Taylor went aerial with confidence and was strong on the drive and cut. With Knight playing a supporting role, England were well on their way. Taylor brought up fifty off 33 balls and thoughb Knight was dismissed off the next ball England needed just 40 off 58 balls.
South Africa claimed a few consolation wickets – van Niekerk took a stunning one-handed return catch in her follow through to dismiss Taylor and Ismail bowled Nat Sciver and Danielle Wyatt with full deliveries in the same over – but England reached the target with 4.3 overs to spare. Tammy Beaumont, who had been moved down from opening to the middle, played confidently to finish unbeaten on 21.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo