Photo Credit: ICC
South Africa skipper Suné Luus struggled to put into words just how much home support has meant to the team but they were not able to delight the big home crowd in Gqeberha against defending champions Australia.
The ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 hosts needed a win over the Aussies to keep their destiny in their own hands, and started both their own innings, and the Australian reply strongly. In the end though, their total of 124 for six was not enough, as Tahlia McGrath’s quick-fire 57 helped the world’s top side to a six-wicket victory.
And for Luus, on a special evening, there was a lot of emotion, as well as frustration at letting the game get away from them.
She said: “It was the first time I had tears in my eyes for the national anthem. I had goosebumps as well.
“It’s great to see the crowds coming out and I don’t think we’ve ever had the support we’ve had. It’s incredibly humbling and I just hope it continues whether we play a World Cup or not.
“We still have one game and we’re still going to give it our all. It’s not ideal to depend on other teams and net run rate and all that, but we’re certainly going to leave everything on the field.”
Tazmin Brits (45) and Laura Wolvaardt (19) put on 54 for the first wicket but Australia responded by taking four wickets for 23 runs to turn it around.
Luus added: “I think the way Tazmin Brits and Laura Wolvaardt started the game, I think we were almost up to sevens at the 10-over mark. We lost wickets consecutively which hurt us on the back end.
“They have a very deep batting order. We used Kappie (Marizanne Kapp) a lot in the first six but unfortunately we didn’t have enough runs on the board. That’s just a fact. But I don’t think it was for lack of trying.
“They were just very, very good with the bat.”
Australia lost some early wickets, with McGrath coming in at 40 for three. She joined Ashleigh Gardner and the MRF Tyres Rankings’ leading batter in Women’s T20I showed just why she holds that spot.
She and Gardner added 81, and while McGrath fell with the win within sight, she had done the damage and was named Player of the Match for her performance.
McGrath said: “I’ve been a bit light on time in the middle so I just wanted to play straight early, get a few out of the middle and then go on from there. Once I got out and got into it, it was a really nice wicket to bat on.
“The atmosphere was incredible and I love playing in front of crowds like this. The bowlers did a great job. A few early wickets isn’t always ideal but the way Ash and I consolidated, I was really happy with that.
“I’ve been loving watching the top order do their thing but it’s always nice to go out there and score some runs. Everyone is batting really well at the moment and we go into the semi-finals full of confidence.”
Australia clinched top spot in Group 1 with this success, and will now wait to see who they face in the semi-finals.
South Africa, meanwhile, need New Zealand to beat Sri Lanka before they take on Bangladesh in their final match, as they look to reach the last four themselves.