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Wolvaardt, Brits put South Africa in the semi-final

Both Wolvaardt and Brits hit fifties.

Laura Wolvaardt and Tazmin Brits hit unbeaten half-centuries to set up South Africa semifinal date with Group B toppers England, after thumping Bangladesh by 10 wickets in their last group game on Tuesday (February 21). Their inability to get going with the bat meant the already-eliminated Bangladesh could only muster 113/6 from their 20 overs before both openers combined for a century stand to help the hosts through to the knockouts in a do-or-die clash.

Having opted to bat, Bangladesh couldn’t make full use of the powerplay. Murshida Khatun played five dots on the trot before its pressure got to her as she mishit an uppish drive to mid-off where Nadine de Klerk pulled off a stunner. Shabnim Ismail struck in the final powerplay over then, getting Shamima Sultana to top-edge her pull to midwicket after a sedate start of 11 off 16 deliveries. Bangladesh had crawled to an underwhelming 23/2 from the first-six.

Losing wickets at regular intervals, Bangladesh lacked solid partnerships going forward, or some late impetus to push for a competitive score. Sobhana Mostary (27 off 30 balls) and Nigar Sultana (30 off 34 balls) both got starts but were guilty of failing to accelerate to make up for the cautious starts. Despite generous help from the hosts in terms of misfields and dropped chances, the Asian side trudged to a modest total of 113/6 while pacers Marizanne Kapp (2 for 17) and Ayabonga Khaka (2 for 21) were the pick of the bowlers for South Africa.

The home team’s chase got off to a slow start as well. Despite the six Wolvaardt slammed off Nahida Akter in the fifth over, South Africa did only marginally better in the powerplay, at 26/0, but importantly had all wickets intact in comparison. Bangladesh also were guilty of poor fielding and catching, and the reprieves meant the openers had steadily progressed to 43/0 at the halfway mark before deciding to up the ante. Boundaries started to flow more regularly now.

Brits brought up South Africa’s fifty in the 11th over with a long-on boundary before taking on Shorma Akter for back-to-back fours in the 14th to make up for the dots earlier. Likewise, Wolvaardt began the 16th over from Nahida with successive fours, raising her fifth T20I half-century with the latter in 48 balls while her partner took 51 deliveries to her sixth fifty.

With the scores levelled, Wolvaardt fittingly booked the last remaining berth in Friday’s second semifinal for South Africa with one of her trademark picture-perfect cover drives, helping them over the line with 13 balls to spare.

In the first encounter of top-four, defending champions Australia will take on the then runners-up India on Thursday (February 23). All knockouts, including Sunday’s final, will be played at the Newlands in Cape Town.

Brief scores: Bangladesh 113/6 in 20 overs (Nigar Sultana 30, Sobhana Mostary 27; Marizanne Kappp 2-17, Ayabonga Khaka 2-21) lost to South Africa 117/0 in 17.5 overs (Laura Wolvaardt 66*, Tazmin Brits 50*) by 10 wickets

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