Van Niekerk stars in historic SA win
South Africa 145 for 3 (van Niekerk 63, du Preez 47*) beat England 156 for 6 (Taylor 66, Luus 2-26) by 17 runs (DLS method)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
South Africa recorded their first ever women's T20 victory over England to level the three-match series at 1-1. In a rain-interrupted innings, South Africa, anchored by Dane van Niekerk's second successive fifty, held their nerve and paced their chase well to ensure Sunday's fixture will be a decider.
After England defended 147 in Paarl a day ago, they would have thought they had enough when they crept over that total at Newlands. Sarah Taylor formed the spine of the innings, as she did in the first match, but she also had greater support. She shared in a 61-run second-wicket stand with Charlotte Edwards and a 63-run fourth-wicket partnership with Heather Knight but South Africa, helped by wayward bowling and clumsy fielding from England, were not overawed.
Van Niekerk, who was dropped on 6 and 22, set the tone when she dispatched a loosener from Anya Shrubsole and then punished Danielle Hazell, who erred in length. She was almost run out, too, when Trisha Chetty sent her back even though she had advanced more than halfway down the wicket from the non-striker's end. The throw from Hazell came in at the striker's end instead but quick work from Taylor ensured Chetty was out.
If van Niekerk was shaken by it, she did not show any signs and struck the first six of the innings with a slog sweep. She hit the ball with power and fine placement and beat short third man with a delicate lap to enter the 40s. Her fifty came via a pull off the 34th ball she faced. That shot also took South Africa halfway to the target.
They were well placed on 80 for 1 after 10 overs and England could not pull them back. Jenny Gunn was punished for width but, just as South Africa seemed to get away, Rebecca Grundy struck. She beat van Niekerk, who had come down the track, and Taylor whipped the bails off.
The first rains fell at the end of that over but South Africa, at 108 for 2, were well ahead on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern and Marizanne Kapp had already showed her intent to finish things off fast with two furious pulls.
The delay was short and Mignon du Preez and Kapp kept South Africa above the required rate, so that when the second interruption happened, four over and two balls later, South Africa were still ahead despite Kapp's dismissal. More rain followed and the players did not get back on but South Africa's batsmen had earned their first win over England after 14 attempts.
It was just reward for their more disciplined effort with the ball than England, which started when South Africa made an early breakthrough, Tammy Beaumont caught at slip. That brought together England's most experienced pair, Edwards and Taylor. The latter immediately picked the right bowler to begin showing her class against, taking two fours off Marabata Klaas' first four balls, before Edwards added a third to get England going.
From there, Edwards was the aggressor. She was strong through the covers and against the full delivery but could not assert herself against the spin. She only faced one ball from van Niekerk before trying a reverse sweep against Suné Luus only to be bowled. Two overs later Luus took a good catch of her own bowling to send Amy Jones on her way and South Africa had created some pressure.
They gave away just one boundary between the 10th and 14th over and should have had Taylor out too but the chance to long-off was put down. With six overs to go, England were stumbling on 92 for 3 but Taylor was still there.
Her fifty came off 44 balls, picking up a Luus full toss and sending it over cow corner. Heather Knight took that as the cue to get going and danced down the track to hit Luus in the same area, but for six. Taylor showed off the reverse-sweep and Knight the slog sweep before Ismail ended their stand when she had Knight caught at deep midwicket.
Two runs-outs in the final over, including Taylor, kept England below 160 and South Africa had done enough to make history.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent