South Africa seal series win over Ireland

South Africa eased to an eight-wicket win in the deciding T20 international against Ireland despite a sterling half-century stand between Gaby Lewis and Shauna Kavanagh, sealing a 2-1 victory in the HBV Studios International Women’s Cricket Series at Pembroke Cricket Club.

Ireland captain Lewis opened the batting with Leah Paul but could only watch on as two early wickets fell, South Africa skipper Sune Luus having won the toss and elected to bowl first.

Paul faced the first nine deliveries of the game, striking a sweet straight drive for four before edging Ayabonga Khaka to Luus at slip next ball.

Mary Waldron came and went for two, lbw to the left-arm spin of Nonkululeko Mlaba, and Kavanagh joined Lewis with Ireland 11-2 and in trouble.

The pair stitched together an excellent partnership, counter-attacking and rotating the strike in equal measure.

By the time the 50 stand was brought up 5.5 overs later, the pair had struck five boundaries between them, facing just nine dot balls in that time.

However, the Proteas hit back, building up the pressure with two boundary-less overs, and reaping the reward with the wicket of Lewis, who lofted Mlaba to long-on for 29.

For a time, it looked as if Kavanagh would carry on to a score of substance, with Rachel Delaney playing her part in another useful stand.

After 14 overs, Ireland was 88-3 and well set for a strong finish, but the reintroduction of Nadine de Klerk, whose first two overs had gone for 14, changed the game.

Kavanagh, who had judged her running well up until that point, was run out returning for a second after an accurate throw from Tumi Sekhukhune, and another excellent piece of fielding accounted for Arlene Kelly, who looked to have chipped over the bowler from her first legal delivery, only for de Klerk to leap and grab hold of the chance with both hands.

There was no arresting the slide that had been set in motion. Delaney was stumped by Trisha Chetty off Luus for 10, Sekhukhune struck three times in six balls across overs, removing debutant Sarah Forbes for four, Georgina Dempsey for three, and Jane Maguire for one, and Celeste Raack fell for a duck to de Klerk.

Ireland had lost seven wickets for 16 runs, dismissed for 104 for the second game in succession.

The defense needed the perfect start, and Maguire was on hand to provide it, removing Tasmin Brits for one in the second over.

However, three consecutive boundaries from Lara Goodall off Delaney got the tourists ahead of the rate, and there was no looking back.

Goodall, fresh from hitting a match-winning half-century in the second T20, carried her form into the decider, with no bowler spared.

Consecutive legal deliveries off Paul and Kelly were both hit for four, and with the final innings of the powerplay, bowled by Raack, going for eight, South Africa were 52-1 after six overs, already halfway to the Ireland total.

Ireland showed resilience to bounce back through the next six overs.

While Anneke Bosch struck Cara Murray for the only six of the contest, there was just one other boundary in the period, with Ireland’s pressure claiming a deserved wicket.

Following three consecutive Dempsey dot balls, Bosch struck a firm drive and set off.

However, she had failed to account for Lewis’ athleticism at mid-off, with a sharp stop and an even sharper throw catching Goodall short of her ground and depriving the opener of a second half-century in succession.

Two more quiet overs followed, but three Bosch boundaries off Murray put the result beyond doubt, and victory was sealed with a straight drive down the ground with eight wickets and 6.1 overs in hand.

The ODI series between the sides begins on Saturday.

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