|ICC Women’s Twenty20, St Lucia|
|South Africa 85 (19.3 overs): Tryon 27, Sciver 3-4, Shrubsole 3-27|
|England 87-3 (14.1 overs): Wyatt 27, Van Niekerk 2-13|
|England won by seven wickets|
Anya Shrubsole’s hat-trick took England a big step closer to the Women’s World T20 semi-finals as they thrashed South Africa by seven wickets in St Lucia.
It was only the second England T20 international hat-trick and Nat Sciver claimed 3-4 as South Africa were all out for 85, having chosen to bat.
England raced to 55-0 after eight overs and won with 35 balls remaining.
Victory for West Indies over Sri Lanka in the night match will ensure both they and England reach the last four.
If Sri Lanka were to cause an upset, England would need to avoid defeat in their final Group A match against the Windies on Saturday to go through with Australia and India, who meet on Saturday to decide who tops Group B.
Losing the toss, and then their one review in the second over – an lbw appeal against Lizelle Lee that would not have hit a second set of stumps – were about the only elements that did not go to plan in an assured England display.
South Africa, who lost their last five wickets for just one run against West Indies, knew victory was essential to preserve their ambitions in the tournament but their innings never carried any momentum and it needed a Lee six to take them to a modest 24-1 after the powerplay.
The boundaries that had been brought in for previous matches when the St Lucian deluge left some damp areas around the edges, were restored to their customary distance of 65 yards after another dry, sunny and breezy day and South Africa failed to find them in the next eight overs.
Two wickets fell in the ninth over, including South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk, who marched back to the pavilion in despair before the replays after being run-out at the non-striker’s end after the slightest of deflections into the stumps from bowler Kirstie Gordon, who added 2-18 to her 3-16 on debut against Bangladesh.
The powerfully-built Chloe Tryon struck two sixes in three balls but skied Sciver tamely to mid-off as the England all-rounder finished with a double wicket maiden and outstanding figures of 3-4 from four overs.
Shrubsole, who took the winning wicket for England at last year’s 50-over World Cup, then ended the innings in devastating fashion, with just four fours and four sixes scored by the South Africans in the 19.3 overs, which saw 74 dot balls.
With South Africa in disarray, England ensured there would be no way back for them and produced some positive strokeplay, reaching 50 from 43 balls with little difficulty.
Fast bowler Shabnim Ismail had taken 3-12 against the West Indies but was hit for six fours as her three overs went for 32.
The purposeful Danni Wyatt passed 1,000 T20 international runs before she was bowled behind her legs with Van Niekerk’s first ball when the skipper belatedly brought herself into the attack for the eighth over.
Though wickets fell in both of the next two overs, captain Heather Knight joined Amy Jones with a partnership of 27 inside four overs to see their team to an important victory.
‘Almost the complete performance’
England seamer Anya Shrubsole: “It’s hard to replace Katherine Brunt’s batting and bowling, but the credit has to go to Nat Sciver for stepping up.
“We were better today than we were against Bangladesh and hopefully we can get better again. We’re a young group – Lauren Winfield was the oldest playing today at 28 and she was devastated!”
England captain Heather Knight: “I’m so pleased with the performance, Anya and Nat set the tone with the ball, we fielded well and it was almost the complete performance.”
South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk: “We owe an apology to our whole country, it’s not our character to roll over like that. We have the firepower and the talent but you need to perform at World Cups against quality sides like England.
“I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t have answers, it’s almost as though losing is becoming a habit.”
Former England batter Ebony Rainford-Brent on BBC Test Match Special: “I like that they came out and played so positively. Danni Wyatt plays with freedom, she doesn’t overcomplicate her game and England are looking like a well-drilled team.
“I still think three spinners might be too much, but they’ve got Tash Farrant still in the wings. The fielding and catching was good, but teams like Australia will do their homework as England struggled once Van Niekerk came on.”
|ICC Women’s World Twenty20|
|Venues: Guyana, St Lucia, Antigua Dates: 9-24 November|
|Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary and in-play video highlights on all games on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and via the BBC Sport website & app; live text commentary on all England & Ireland games, plus selected other matches|