Birmingham : Galvanized by a maiden T20I half-century from teenager Alice Capsey, England defeated South Africa by 26 runs to confirm their semifinal qualification from Group B in the 2022 Commonwealth Games at Edgbaston.
Alice carved eight boundaries, including one six in her effort of 50 off 37 deliveries, which was accompanied by lower-order contributions from veteran pacer Katherine Brunt (38 not out) and wicketkeeper Amy Jones (36 not out), as England posted 167/5 in their 20 overs.
South Africa’s chase included a 64-run stand between Anneke Bosch (32) and Tazmin Brits (38) as well as a 33-ball 41 not out from Laura Wolvaardt. But it was not enough as England’s bowling attack restricted South Africa to 141/4 in their 20 overs.
Electing to field first, South Africa managed to make early inroads through fiery bowler Shabnim Ismail, as she clean bowled Sophia Dunkley (1) with her first ball of the day.
Despite losing an early batter, England continued their aggressive intent at the crease through Danni Wyatt and Alice as the pair put on 33 runs for the second wicket before Shqbnim returned to strike with her first delivery of her second spell, claiming the scalp of Danni; caught behind for 27.
Although the two wickets from Shabnim did well to keep the English batters in check, 17-year old Alice showed her rising talent alongside stand-in skipper Nat Sciver (12), as she marched towards her first ever T20I fifty for England, before both batters were removed through Anneke (1/27) and Nonkululeko Mlaba (1/22).
With two key batters back in the dugout, South Africa capitalised on that momentum to run out Maia Bouchier (1) soon after, to leave the home side at 94/5 after 13 overs and in danger of being bowled out for a low total.
From there, Jones and Brunt batted England over the line in fine fashion.The duo added 73 runs together in the middle, with the bowling all-rounder Brunt playing the role of the protagonist with an unbeaten 23-ball 38 while Jones finished unconquered on 36 off 23 balls as England reached did well to post 167/5.
In reply, South Africa began their innings in solid form, with Anneke and Tazmin guiding their team through the powerplay unscathed, reaching the end of the first six overs on 39/0.
With the opening pair settled at the crease, Anneke took on the responsibility to up the ante to help bring up the pair’s half-century stand before Sophie Ecclestone (1-21) made the all-important breakthrough to remove her.
Tazmin and Laura tried their best to keep up with the required run rate and in their effort to catch up, England picked up the wicket of the former for a near run-a-ball 38 that included five fours.
Explosive all-rounder, Chloe Tryon (11) then joined Laura and in the reaction to the scoreboard pressure and England’s disciplined bowling, Tryon as well as Mignon du Preez (1) were caught in the deep in attempts to score quickly.
Laura and captain Sune Luus (nine not out) managed to see out the closing stages for South Africa, with the former ending undefeated on 41 off 33 balls (three fours) as England wrapped up the result to secure their place in the semifinal with one match to spare.
South Africa will play their next match at the Commonwealth Games on Thursday when they take on Sri Lanka.
Brief Scores: England 167/5 in 20 overs (Alice Caspey 50, Katherine Brunt 38 not out; Shabnim Ismail 2/27) beat South Africa 141/4 in 20 overs (Laura Wolvaardt 41 not out, Tazmin Brits 38; Katherine Brunt 1/16, Sophie Ecclestone 1/21) by 26 runs.