In what was a sensational comeback, the Proteas bowling unit brought the heat, as the home side beat the White Ferns by 11-runs in the final T20 match to level the series at Willowmoore Park, in Benoni.
A breezy, overcast day greeted the two teams, with the White Ferns winning the toss and deciding to field first. Trusting the process and momentum from day before, the visitors applied consistent pressure to the opening duo of Proteas captain Laura Wolvaardt and Tazmin Brits.
Woolvardt tried to get going but was cleaned bowled by Lea Tahuhu for 24(20) with four fours. Anneke Bosch played a quick 28 (24) hitting two fours before she was sent back to the dressing room off the bowling of Molly Penfold.
Brits played a good innings but fell 5-runs short of a half century when she was caught by Eden Carson off the bowling of Tahuhu, for 45 (38) with five sensational fours and huge six into the stands. Chloe Tryone came in to join Suné Luus, but had her stumps sent flying 11-runs later, with the score on 126/4 at the end of the seventeenth over.
Nadine de Klerk followed soon, her middle stump upended as she was sent back for just 1 run. Sinalo Jafta supported Luus, as they propelled the Proteas to a competitive total of 155/5 in their innings. Luus was unbeaten on 36*(23) hitting five fours and Jafta end on 3*(4). Setting the visitors a target of 156.
Molly Penfold 2/27 and Lea Tahuhu 2/20 were the pick of the White Ferns bowling unit that restricted the Proteas batting lineup.
New Zealand opening pair of Kate Anderson and Suzie Bates looked confident as they stepped out to the crease to get the run chase going, but Anderson 11 (10) was sent back to the dressing room by a brilliant catch from Bosch off the bowling of Masabata Klaas.
Amelia Kerr came in raring to go from where she left off the day before, and she and Bates put on a scintillating 97 run partnership before Bates was trapped LBW by Nadine de Klerk, for 45 (42) with five cracking fours in her innings.
Bates then reached a massive milestone of surpassing Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma to top the list of players men or women in the T20 format of amassing more than 4000 runs.
With the New Zealand squad needing a further 39 runs at this stage of the game and Amelia Kerr have attained back-to-back half centuries, the match was nicely poised for good finish, but what happened next was nothing short of extraordinary.
Suné Luus took an easy catch off the bowing of Klaas to dismiss Kerr for a superb 61 (47) smashing nine fours, leaving the visitors with 26 runs to chase down. Sophie Devine was sent back for just 8 (6), and that was the start of the catastrophic end of the White Ferns.
In a heart-stopping nineteenth over, the over that changed the game, New Zealand lost three wickets for a mere 3-runs. Nadine de Klerk took two wickets in that over and Tumi Sekhukhune sent Brooke Halliday scrambling back to the dressing room in a brilliant run-out.
With 19-runs to get in the last over, it was any team’s game. It came down to who wanted it the most. Ayabonga Khaka got the scalp of Molly Penfold off the second ball in the over and there was no coming back from this for New Zealand, as they finished on 144/8, with Georgia Plimmer 5*(5) and Eden Carson 3*(2).
The Proteas ticked all the right boxes on the day, batting, bowling, and fielding was a very different to what we saw the previous day.
Protea Women’s Head Coach Hilton Moreeng, speaking at the post-match presentation said it was frustrating series, as they would have liked to get in all 5 games, but it was out of their control.
“We are happy to have had these two games, and it was two closely contested games which was great. Our batting has improved in the shorter format. The bowling and skill execution was better today.Protea Women’s Head Coach Hilton Moreeng
“New Zealand showed us that they are a dangerous unit on any given day, but we played better. Players are playing to their potential and you can see the improvement.”
Speaking on players stepping up, “Klaas and de Klerk were given the opportunity to play and they put their hands up on the day for the team. They showed a lot of growth and passion and we are happy with their performances.”
“We can take a lot of positives from this series. Laura is handling the captaincy extremely well. She carries a lot on her young shoulders but she has balanced her performance with the responsibility of captaincy and batting and that for us is pleasing as it shows her maturity in the role.”
“Players are going back to domestic cricket and it will be good for them. It will them to play and be ready for the incoming Bangladesh tour in December. This break also gives us the opportunity to prepare accordingly but we are happy with what we are seeing so far.
Proteas Women Squad vs New Zealand:
Laura Wolvaardt (captain)
Nadine de Klerk
Mieke de Ridder
Proteas Women vs New Zealand T20 Fixtures and Results
Fri 6 October: 1st T20 – Proteas Women vs New Zealand Woman – Match Abandoned
Sun 8 October: 2nd T20 – Proteas Women vs New Zealand Woman – Match Abandoned
Tue 10 October: 3rd T20 – Proteas Women vs New Zealand Woman – Match Abandoned
Sat 14 October: 4th T20 – New Zealand Woman win by 8 wickets
Sun 15 October (14h00): 5th T20 – Proteas Women won by 11 runs
Nadine de Klerk’s three wickets for 24 in four overs and Masabata Klaas’ three wickets for 26 in three will remain the hallmark of the final of five T20 matches between the Proteas Women and New Zealand’s White Ferns. The series ended drawn 1-all, with the opening three fixtures in East London washed out. Photo: Proteas Women on X