RESULT
Final, Cape Town, February 26, 2023, ICC Women's T20 World Cup
PrevNext
(20 ov, T:157) 137/6

AUS WMN won by 19 runs

Player Of The Match
74* (53)
beth-mooney
Player Of The Series
110 runs • 10 wkts
ashleigh-gardner
Preview

Australia, South Africa and a touch of destiny at the Women's T20 World Cup final

It's Lanning's five-time champions versus Luus' first-time finalists. Newlands, are you ready?

Valkerie Baynes
Valkerie Baynes
25-Feb-2023

Big Picture: A sellout at Newlands

Ask any South African and they will tell you they never expected this - their team in the Women's T20 title decider, the first senior cricket side from their country to reach a World Cup final. Ask any Australian and they will tell you they expected this - their team one match away from a third straight T20I World Cup crown and sixth in all.
After South Africa's three-run defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka in the opening match of the tournament and six-wicket loss to Australia in Gqeberha, they had to defeat Bangladesh in their final group match to reach the semi-finals, which is where this World Cup truly lit up. Australia edged past a courageous India by just five runs to advance before the hosts' stirring six-run victory over England who, like Australia, had reached the knockout phase unbeaten.
So have South Africa played their final already? Or can they be expected to lift another level before an expected sell-out crowd - a first for a women's sporting event in South Africa - of nearly 13,000 at Newlands? It is hard to see any dents in Australia's armour - even in getting a scare from India they did what they so often do and found a way, thanks to a superior fielding performance, their rock-solid top four and calm death bowling from Ashleigh Gardner and Jess Jonassen.
The home side, however, are riding a huge wave of emotion and confidence. Their bowling attack is supreme, as shown in their win over England and they were sharp in the field during the semi-final also - especially Tazmin Brits - showing that they can handle the pressure.

Form guide

South Africa WWLWL (all completed matches, most recent first)
Australia WWWWW

In the spotlight: Australia's batting vs South Africa's bowling

Australia's batting line-up has been nigh on indomitable over recent years so the likes of Alyssa Healy, Beth Mooney, Meg Lanning, Garnder and Ellyse Perry against Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka, Marizanne Kapp and Nonkululeko Mlaba looms as the key match-up of this final. Australia have three of the top 10 run-scorers at this tournament so far and South Africa two while each have two bowlers inside the leading 10 wicket-takers. South Africa's batting really only began to gel in the last two games, with Brits and Laura Wolvaardt putting on opening stands of 117 and 96 so that's an area they'll need to fire against Australia, who have proven wicket-takers across the board.
Don't forget the home crowd. An additional 3,000 tickets were made available for the upper tiers at Newlands on Saturday morning and they had all been snapped up by mid-afternoon. Australia know what it's like to play with a packed house behind them and now that the South African side can expect the same, there's no telling what that could do.

Team news: Jonassen over King for Australia?

While it was pace duo Ismail and Khaka who did the damage in the semi-final, they have a top-class spinner in Mlaba in their midst too. South Africa played their best XI against England and are unlikely to change that winning formula for the final.
South Africa (possible): 1 Tazmin Brits, 2 Laura Wolvaardt, 3 Marizanne Kapp, 4 Suné Luus (capt), 5 Chloe Tryon, 6 Anneke Bosch, 7 Nadine de Klerk, 8 Sinalo Jafta (wk), 9 Shabnim Ismail, 10 Ayabonga Khaka, 11 Nonkululeko Mlaba
Australia have all players available for selection heading into the final. They replaced legspinner Alana King with left-arm spinner Jonassen for the semi-final against India and Jonassen's bowling at the death was a key factor in Australia's five-run victory so it would be no surprise to see her retain her place.
Australia (possible): 1 Alyssa Healy (wk), 2 Beth Mooney, 3 Meg Lanning (capt), 4 Ashleigh Gardner, 5 Ellyse Perry, 6 Tahlia McGrath, 7 Grace Harris, 8 Georgia Wareham, 9 Jess Jonassen, 10 Megan Schutt, 11 Darcie Brown

Pitch and conditions

The match will be played on the same Newlands pitch that staged both semi-finals where pace played a part, particularly early in England's chase as Ismail unleashed her thunderbolts. But by the following day it was looking fairly brown with some cracks appearing under a baking sun and with a drying wind about. Another sunny day is forecast with temperatures of 26 degrees Celsius expected. Almost bang in the centre of the ground, the on- and off-side boundaries are pretty much equidistant.

Stats and trivia

  • Australia have won all six of the T20Is between these sides and 14 of 15 ODIs. The only time South Africa avoided defeat was in a tied game in 2016.
  • Brits and Wolvaardt have shared 299 partnership runs between them so far. Only Healy and Mooney (352 runs in 2020) have added more runs together in an edition of the Women's T20 World Cup.
  • Healy has five fifties in her last 10 innings at the Women's T20 World Cup, where she has scored 407 runs at an average of 45.22 and a strike rate of 138.43.

Quotes

"We know we're probably not going to be the team that everyone's cheering for but that's fine, you know it's going to be an incredible atmosphere and an incredible game at an amazing venue - so we're pumped, we can't wait to get out here and play and no doubt it's going to be a great contest."
Australia captain Meg Lanning is ready to not feel at home.
"That is just it, my friend. It's history, understand? Tomorrow, it's a one-off game. You can't be worrying about Australia and what they're doing."
South Africa coach Hilton Moreeng on how to beat the five-time champions who have won 19 of their last 20 T20Is and gone undefeated through the tournament.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor, women's cricket, at ESPNcricinfo

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English
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