​Luus Stars For South Africa With Five-For

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Side keeps its record against Ireland intact, wrapping up 67-run win after handy partnerships lift it to 156 for 5

It was a brand new day, new pitch and a new opponent, but, unfortunately, Ireland couldn’t engineer a change in fortunes. It managed to hold its own for a good part of its bowling stint but came under a pile of runs towards the death. Ireland’s batters then succumbed to a trial by spin as South Africa Women registered an emphatic 67-run win in a Group A fixture at the MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai on Wednesday (March 23).

With the win, which was orchestrated by Sune Luus’s impressive five-wicket haul (5 for 8), South Africa maintained the trend of getting the better of Ireland in Twenty20 Internationals as it extended its winning run to 8-0.

South Africa was headed for a massive total when Dane van Niekerk and Trisha Chetty, the openers, got going. A decent effort by the Ireland bowlers in the middle overs swung the momentum somewhat, but a late flourish by Dinesha Devnarain and Chloe Tryon meant South Africa finished at 156 for 5. Ireland could only post 89 for 9 in 20 overs in its reply.

The toss once again went against Ireland who had conceded totals of 177 and 129 in its previous two matches in the tournament. While its bowlers looked in better rhythm, van Niekerk and Chetty, the South Africa openers, made the most of every loose ball that came through. Laura Delany’s first over fetched 13 runs, thanks to van Niekerk lofting the ball through covers and consecutive hits to the square-leg fence by Chetty.

The duo got South Africa off to a brisk start with a 41-run opening stand in just 4.1 overs. Van Niekerk had raced to 20 from 13 balls with two fours and a six, before being trapped in front by Kim Garth, the right-arm pacer.

Mignon du Preez, the South Africa captain, and Chetty kept the scoreboard ticking as the fast-bowling duo of Garth and Amy Kenealy kept things tight in the middle. But, just as du Preez and Chetty looked set to rebuild the innings, Robyn Lewis, who replaced her sister Gaby in the XI, rattled the South Africa captain’s timber with a slower delivery that snuck back in.

In the next over, Chetty’s hoick off Ciara Metcalfe found Isobel at short midwicket. Marizanne Kapp, who came in at 4, got off the mark with boundary in her second ball, but was guilty of pulling a short one from Isobel to Kenealy at midwicket.

Devnarain and Lizelle Lee came together with South Africa 84 for 4, and weeded out the possibility of Ireland making further inroads. Without taking too many chances, the duo was quick between the wickets and went about rebuilding the innings with a crucial 42-run fifth-wicket stand. Devnarain did the early running before easing into the aggressor’s role, and had raced to 24 off 18 balls when she was stumped off Garth in the penultimate over.

Lee and Chloe Tryon (7-ball 20) then smashed three fours and a six in the last over to take South Africa to a commanding position.

Ireland’s reply wasn’t the most auspicious as Cecelia Joyce fell in the third over, caught behind off Kapp for 2. Cath Dalton fell in the fifth over when she was done in by a peach from Moseline Daniels that nipped back in from outside off to hit the middle stump.

Clare Shillington, the opener, and Isobel then played some authentic strokes in their 44-run third-wicket stand, but once they were gone, the innings fell apart. While Isobel (22 off 23 balls) handed an easy return catch to Sune Luus in the 12th over, Shillington was run out soon after.

To her credit, du Preez persisted with Luus and van Niekerk, strangling Ireland with spin as the boundaries dried up completely. From there on, it was only the Luus show, as the legspinner threw the ball up and forced the Ireland batters to go after her. With the mounting asking rate, the batters were left with little choice, and that resulted in the wicket of Robyn for Luus, who finished on 5 for 8.

Four wickets fell over the course of the next 16 deliveries, as Ireland was reduced to 85 for 9 in 17.5 overs. The last-wicket pair of Kenealy and Metcalfe were left with an impossible task, as South Africa reinforced its dominance over Ireland.