Disappointment for South Africa, elation for Australia. Never a happy ending when rain and the Proteas come together, isn't it? Sixth T20 World Cup final in succession for the hosts. Consistency personified! For the Proteas, it is yet another case of being so near yet so far. You could see in their eyes what it meant for them. Dane van Niekerk had tears in their eyes, she struggled to speak in the presentation as well.
Australia, well, they have a chance to avenge their loss to India in the World Cup opener. The Asian side has a chance to take revenge for their loss in the tri-series final. And the venue - Melbourne Cricket Ground. All the elements of an exciting game are present. Hope to you have you, one of the most important ingredients, with us for company on Sunday, March 8, International Women's Day. This is S. Sudarshanan signing off. Take care! Adios!
Dane van Niekerk, SA: Have to credit to Australia for restricting us, they bowled well. We brought it back with the ball. They got off to a flier, looking good for a 160+. Credit for Nadine de Klerk, couldn't have asked for more. It is very emotional to see the ladies like that. Tough to see us fall short like that. Unfortunately wasn't our year and our day. This is a very talented team, Wolvaardt has got going down the order. South Africa is a great place to play.
Meg Lanning, AUS: Extremely tense. Even on the last couple of balls you weren't safe. I was extremely nervous, certainly nice feeling to have a win. We thought it was a good total without being great. We had to adjust. Thought for the most part we did well to defend that. It's about calming everyone down. The first few games just flew and we had to slow it down. It was about the mindset. At the back end of the Sri Lanka game, to win it set up our campaign. India have been playing excellently throughout the tournament. We've given ourselves a chance. I doubt there's much sleep happening tonight. Just aim to get out there and play. South Africa played excellently. I hope Marizanne Kapp is okay.
Meg Lanning: Very stressful. The rain game during the game and then the wait. The ground staff did the job us to get us a game. South Africa did their stuff and made it difficult for us. Was nice to be able to contribute. The ground staff did an amazing job. It’s raining an awful lot in Sydney but they did a wonderful job for us to play.
Should South Africa have sent Laura Wolvaardt before Sune Luus? And then perhaps Chloe Tryon? These are thoughts in hindsight. But yet another chance to enter the T20 World Cup final goes abegging for them. They were always fighting the tide when they had a shortened chase – needing 98 in 13 overs. They fell just short against England in the 2017 Women’s World Cup semis and here again. Heartbreak galore.
But spare a thought for Wolvaardt. Not by any margin is she a power hitter but she’s finished unconquered on 41 off just 27 balls, striking at over 151.
Australia kept their calm, none more than Megan Schutt. 2/17 in a rain-curtailed game is as good as it gets. She received good support from the others as they finished on top. Yet another finals for them. Presentations follow…
South Africa 92/5 in 13 overs, lost by five runs.
Laura Wolvaardt played brilliantly to finish unbeaten on 41 off 27, but South Africa have still fallen short. She didn't get any support from the other end. Jess Jonassen managed to keep her calm eventually, though she gave away 13.
South Africa 79/5 in 12.1 overs, need 19 off 5.
Chloe Tryon is not in form. She gets a full toss from Jess Jonassen. But all Tryon manages is a top edge. Meg Lanning at covers doesn't mess it up.
South Africa 79/4 in 12 overs, need 19 in 6.
Laura Wolvaardt hits a massive smash over deep mid-wicket for half a dozen on the last ball of Megan Schutt's over to give South Africa an outside chance.
South Africa 71/4 in 11.2 overs.
Megan Schutt ends the 47-run stand between Sune Luus and Laura Wolvaardt. Luus holes out to Beth Mooney at long-off.
South Africa 71/3 in 11 overs, need 27 in 12.
Delissa Kimmince bowled a terrific over, giving away just five off it. South Africa's hopes fading...
South Africa 66/3 in 10 overs, need 32 in 18.
WE HAVE A GAME! 10 overs done! Sune Luus and Laura Wolvaardt have managed to add 42 together already. Wolvaardt has continued from where she left off against Pakistan. Those classy shots are back. Can South Africa chase it?
South Africa 47/3 in 8 overs.
That was a good over for South Africa. First, Sune Luus clobbered one over Jess Jonassen's head for a four. Then, Laura Wolvaardt seemed to have mistimed one, but it had enough to clear long on. 12 runs off the over.
South Africa 35/3 in 7 overs, need 67 in 36.
Sune Luus and Laura Wolvaardt aren't able to get the Australian bowlers away. They are not been given anything to get underneath. Dots galore...
South Africa 24/3 in 4.5 overs, need 74 in 49.
Mignon du Preez walks back for a nought and South Africa are in shambles. She drove a full ball from Delissa Kimmince towards covers, where Meg Lanning took a good diving catch.
SAf 3 down as Aust bowl and field superbly but is there time for another 31 balls? #T20WorldCup— Daniel Brettig (@danbrettig) March 5, 2020
South Africa 23/2 in 4 overs.
Megan Schutt fires one in line of the stumps, Dane van Niekerk is on her back foot. Looks to get bat to ball, is a tad late in getting her bat down. The ball nips in and disturbs her stumps. Australia on top...
South Africa 20/1 in 2.5 overs, need 78 in 61.
Sophie Molineux was invited to the attack by Dane van Niekerk, who hit a maximum over deep mid-wicket. A ball later, Lizelle Lee hit one over extra covers for a four.
But in a bid to hit the spinner out, Lee holes out to wide long on, where Ashleigh Gardner takes a good running catch. Lee goes for 10, early strike for Australia.
Good news, folks! The rain has stopped and the covers are coming off. We should be on course for a start at 4:11 pm IST, provided there's no more rain. The revised target for South Africa is 98 runs in 13 overs.
It's still raining, the covers are on. The latest the match can get underway is at 4:19 pm IST. And the 10-over target for South Africa will be 79. In case of a washout, remember, South Africa go through. Will we get underway again?
It has began to pour down! The centre has been covered. South Africa are yet to beat Australia in T20Is and it seems they will have to wait till they get a chance to do so. Hopefully the weather clears up soon. There was another spell of rain predicted but not sure how long it will last. Fingers crossed.
This has been a very good comeback from South Africa. Thanks to Beth Mooney, Australia had got off to a very quick start, getting to 48/1 in the power play. But after that, Nadine de Klerk was brought into the attack and that changed the face of the innings. She finished with 3/19 and had good support from Shabnim Ismail, who finished with 1/20.
That's a brilliant effort from South Africa. 1 expensive over could cost them but overall, they really kept Meg Lanning in her shell - not easy at the best of times. #T20WorldCup— Raf Nicholson (@RafNicholson) March 5, 2020
While things were seemingly beginning to go downhill for Australia – they lost three wickets for just three runs – Meg Lanning once again stood up in a knockout game. She finished unbeaten on a run-a-ball 49, ensuring Australia have a fighting total. We have a game on, folks, provided the rain decides to stay away. Back soon!
Nadine de Klerk: Actually I knew this morning that I might play. Not a lot of time to prepare. I was ready to bowl and was excited to get out there. We had really good plans, spoke about what we wanted to do. I think it's a really good score, with a really good outfield and a good batting wicket, I'm backing the girls to chase the score down. We were confident coming to this game, really good that our confidence is high. We are pumped to be here.
Australia 134/5 in 20 overs.
Ayabonga Khaka and Shabnim Ismail have bowled two terrific overs to close the innings off, just 11 runs coming off them despite a set Meg Lanning being in the middle.
Australia 123/5 in 18 overs.
Meg Lanning has stepped on the gas, taking 17 off the 18th over. She managed to hit a couple of fours off Ayabonga Khaka in the over, moving to 44 off 43 balls.
Australia 103/5 in 16.1 overs.
Nadine de Klerk fires it full in line of the stumps, Rachael Haynes looks to make room and smash it. Misses and makes a mess of her stumps. Haynes goes for 17.
Australia 94/4 in 15 overs.
Australia can hope to get to an above-par score as long as Meg Lanning is in the middle. Trisha Chetty missed a stumping chance off Chloe Tryon and Lanning is on a roll since then. She is on 32 off 35.
Australia 71/4 in 10.2 overs.
Nadine de Klerk has ensured South Africa don't miss Marizanne Kapp. She picks her second wicket. This was full outside off, Ashleigh Gardner went for a loose drive away from the body. Just got a feather, gone for a two-ball duck.
Great thinking from Australia to start throwing these last several wickets away. Get South Africa in ASAP to maximise the chances of a live game. #T20WorldCup— Dan Liebke (@LiebCricket) March 5, 2020
Australia 69/3 in 9.1 overs.
Ninkululeko Mlaba strikes, South Africa claw back. The left-arm bowler tosses it up, Jess Jonassen dances down and looks to tonk it out. Ends up holing out to Shabnim Ismail at long on.
Australia 68/2 in 8.3 overs.
Beth Mooney charged down to take on Nadine de Klerk. Missed the ball completely to get her leg stump knocked out. She went for 28.
Australia 63/1 in 8 overs.
Meg Lanning put her dancing shoes on, slinking down the track and hitting Dane van Niekerk over long-off for half a dozen. She is on 14 in 12 while Beth Mooney is on 28 off 23.
Australia 48/1 in 6 overs.
Dane van Niekerk was hit for two fours by Beth Mooney in the last over of the power play that went for 11 runs. The first one was swept through the gap between short fine leg and square leg, while the next one was timed beautifully through extra covers. The southpaw is looking in smooth touch.
Australia 34/1 in 4.4 overs.
The drop doesn't prove costly for South Africa. Ayabonga Khaka sends Alyssa Healy back for 18. Full ball around off and middle, Healy looks to flick it away. Ends up chipping it to Dane van Niekerk at mid-wicket.
Australia 29/0 in 4 overs.
Alyssa Healy is getting into the groove. First, she smashed one over Nonkululeko Mlaba's head for a boundary. Then she almost gave her. catch, but it was hit firmly. The ball flew past Mlaba to the long-of fence. On the last ball, she was dropped by Trisha Chetty off an attempted cut.
Australia 18/0 in 3 overs.
Two fours in the third over bowled by Shabnim Ismail. First, a short ball was pulled by Beth Mooney just over Chloe Tryon at mid-on. Later in the over, Alyssa Healy's drive beat Tryon to her right at mid-off. Ismail capped off the over with a well-directed bouncer, which Healy missed.
Australia 9/0 in 2 overs.
Shabnim Ismail and Ayabonga Khaka opened the bowling for South Africa instead of Nonkululeko Mlaba. Alyssa Healy hit Ismail over covers for a boundary.
Khaka bowled a quieter over, just giving three runs. She almost got rid of Healy, who had a wild hoick to a length ball. It swung it and missed the inside edge as well as the off stump.
For starters, it's a 20 overs game. Australia have three spinners plus Ashleigh Gardner who can also bowl spin. South Africa perhaps would be hard done by by not having Kapp in the side.
Mooney and Healy jog out with the bat, as do the Proteas...
Outstanding work by tee grand staff at the @SCG to ensure play only started 25 minutes late. As it stands, no overs have been lost. 2 hours ago, we were heading for a certain washout. Great result in the circumstances. #WT20WC— Rory Burnside (@RoryBurnside) March 5, 2020
South Africa: Lizelle Lee, Dane van Niekerk (c), Sune Luus, Mignon du Preez, Laura Wolvaardt, Chloe Tryon, Nadine de Klerk, Trisha Chetty (wk), Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka, Nonkululeko Mlaba
Australia: Alyssa Healy (wk), Beth Mooney, Meg Lanning (c), Ashleigh Gardner, Jess Jonassen, Rachael Haynes, Nicola Carey, Sophie Molineux, Georgia Wareham, Delissa Kimmince, Megan Schutt
Natalie Germanos: The ground staff has done a fabulous job. They weren't caught by surprise. There is a lovely covering of grass, looks to be on the darker side. Shouldn't be too slow. Overhead factors could be a factor. Not surprised by South Africa's choice to bowl first.
Megan Schutt: I reckon I have been a pretty average. I was lucky to get three wickets in the last match. Obviously we're devastated for Perry. I think we have enough calibre to replace her but sad for us. The support has been amazing. Hopefully we can get some cricket tonight. We just got here so hadn't have to wait for long.
Sune Luus: Definitely preps have been good. We did our fielding at the side. The players have grown since the last world cup. As a team we’ve done a lot to get there. We always speak of our bowling and how good it is. We want to contribute as batters and not let the bowlers down. We should have done that a long time ago. This is Dane and Kapp's homeground (in the WBBL). So they know the players and the conditions very well. I think it’s gonna be a good game.
South Africa have won the toss and will bowl first.
Dane van Niekerk: Knowing there's rain around and a target in front helps. To be honest, I didn't watch anything from the morning. If we have to get to the finals, we have to beat the defending champions. Marizanne Kapp hasn't recovered, she's out. Nadine de Klerk comes in.
Meg Lanning: I wasn't sure, hoping to let South Africa choose. Really dry wicket and hoping to make good use of it. Molineux and Kimmince come in for Perry and Sutherland.
Here are the timings that matter: Pitch inspection at 1:21 pm IST. For a 10 overs-a-side game, the toss should take place at 3:01 pm IST and the game should start at 3:16 pm IST. It is likely that we could get the toss done earlier, given that there is no rain currently. Dark skies though...
Very pleasant visuals. Covers off, looks a decent pitch. The super soppers are at work. Michael Clarke says on air that this has been an aspect that has improved at the Sydney Cricket Ground - the drainage. The ground dries pretty quickly and that is what is a wonderful thing about a good venue. Yet, the toss has been delayed. Not sure by how much time, yet. Stay tuned!
Time for the second semi-final! South Africa will fight to vie for their maiden T20 World Cup final appearance while Australia look to do so for yet another time. But first - the weather. Right now as I type this, there is no rain. But the downpour since morning has meant that a lot of mopping up has to take place before we can actually hope. Plus there is one more spell of rain in the offing. Fingers crossed as usual.
Coming to the match-ups, Dane van Niekerk did admit in the pre-match presser that they are the 'babies' because of their lack of experience at this level as compared to their opponents. South Africa, though, has been a team that has been very strong and has had both the aspects firing in this competition so far. If anything, their openers not getting going together could be an issue. Another bit that would be interesting to see, when it comes down to the action is the fitness of Marizanne Kapp - will she be available for this crucial clash?
On the other hand, Australia have been there and done that. They have sailed through semis, won titles. So it's nothing new, so to say. But every knockout game brings with it a great deal of pressure, irrespective of how you have fared in competitions before. The hosts would desperately want to get on the field and get the result, for, they would sure not want the weather to have a say in them missing out on a grand home finale. Talks are strong about Sophie Molineux coming into the XI with Ellyse Perry not there. It could work, given that the track could be slow because of all the rain. We'll find out as we go along.
Another point to remember: South Africa will proceed to the final, in case this game gets washed out, too, because there is no spare day for the semis. I'm S. Sudarshanan and will be glad to have your company for the rest of this game. Stay tuned for more!