Sri Lanka 105
South Africa 107/8
SA won by 2 wickets
South Africa has won this three match series, but this was a dreadful game that ended with a horrible error, which in that single moment summed the game up in its entirety.
Neither side will have walked away from the match pleased at the way they fielded. In the case of the hosts, they gifted the Sri Lankans about 20 extra runs, while for the tourists, their fielding cost them the game. Three of South Africa’s last four boundaries – in what had turned into a tense chase – were the result of Sri Lankan miss-fields in the deep.
Fielding standards in the women’s game have improved immensely in the last three years, led by the current world T20 champions Australia. The semi-finals of this year’s Women’s Big Bash League, in which Van Niekerk, Kapp and Laura Wolvaardt all played a part were both decided by brilliant pieces of fielding.
Besides the batting, their fielding is an area South Africa have spent a lot of time working on recently, but that work was not reflected here. Two catches were missed, there were overthrows and miss-fields.
It’s somewhat ironic then that the match turned on two superb pieces of fielding by Tumi Sekhukhune. First a wonderful diving catch that ended Umesh Thimashini’s innings in the 18th over, when the 20 year old came in off the long-on boundary and threw herself to her right. “We were mocking her afterwards saying it was a straightforward catch she just waited to make it look good,” Player of the Match Sune Luus, said afterwards. “That set the tone for the rest of the innings.”
Four balls later Sekhukhune produced a fine throw from the midwicket boundary to run out Oshadi Ranasinghe. Luus is right too, those two moments did help lift the standards in the last few overs, but it also proved that there’s no reason South African can’t field like that for the whole innings.
As bad as South Africa were in the field, Sri Lanka were worse, and they cut distraught figures as they reflected on that last fielding error which gifted the game and the series to the hosts.
It had been a nervous chase from the South Africans following the dismissal of skipper Dane van Niekerk in the fourth over. Van Niekerk played aggressively scoring 33 off just 19 balls hitting six fours and a six. However once Sri Lanka employed their spinners the game changed and South Africa lurched their way through until the final over.
“We thought it would be a good batting track, but personally I didn’t expect that much turn,” said Luus, who had earlier benefited from the surface to claim 5/14, her second ‘five-for’ in her T20 International career.
From 43/1 at the end of the Power Play, South Africa scratched around getting to 92/6 after 18 overs, and eventually ended up needing eight off the last over.
The fact that five players in the middle order had 10 or less caps at this level played a part in the poor management of the chase, but credit must also go to one of those youngsters, Nadine de Klerk who kept here cool towards the latter stages of the innings.
The 19 year old hit the winning runs, finishing not out on 15 (18b, 1x4) as the Proteas got over the line with one ball to spare. “The way Nadine carried herself at the end was brilliant,” said Luus. “That’s something even the more experienced players can learn from.
We’ve talked a lot about not letting the scoreboard get to you in the middle and she kept a calm head out there.”
The third and final T20 International will be played at SuperSport Park on Wednesday.@shockerhess