England face Women’s World Cup exit after South Africa bring up third loss | Women’s Cricket World Cup

England’s title defence suffered a heavy blow after they went down to a third straight defeat in the Women’s World Cup following a three-wicket loss to South Africa at Mount Maunganui. South Africa had not beaten England for over 20 years in a Women’s World Cup, but chased down England’s 235 with four balls remaining.

England will again be left to rue fielding errors, allowing Laura Wolvaardt three lifelines on her way to what ultimately proved to be a crucial innings of 77.

However, after defeats by Australia and West Indies in the first two matches of the tournament, England now require other results to go their way to have any chance of qualifying for a semi-final spot and maintaining a chance to retain their title.

South Africa were left with 16 needed from the final three overs, and then 10 from 10, despite some clever bowling from Sophie Ecclestone.

Anya Shrubsole then claimed the wicket of Marizanne Kapp but No 9 Shabnim Ismail hit a four with her first ball to reduce the rate needed to six from nine and crucially under a run a ball. Requiring four from the final over, South Africa kept their cool to secure victory with four balls to spare.

England’s fielding had been poor in the World Cup and was below par again, as they dropped Wolvaardt on four and 23, and missing a stumping. Those chances came after Anya Shrubsole’s tidy opening spell as she removed the dangerous Lizelle Lee for just nine.

Amy Jones showed some quick hands to stump South African captain Sune Luus as she overbalanced to give Charlie Dean a wicket on her World Cup debut.

Laura Wolvaardt made the most of multiple reprieves from England’s fielders to make a telling 77 from 101 balls.
Laura Wolvaardt made the most of multiple reprieves from England’s fielders to make a telling 77 from 101 balls. Photograph: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

Wolvaardt was finally caught by Nat Sciver at midwicket off the bowling of Kate Cross to leave South Africa 158 for four. The wicket of Mignon Du Preez followed shortly afterwards, but South Africa kept the run rate up to chase down England’s total.

England struggled from the start of their innings as Danni Wyatt waved at a wide delivery and found Wolvaardt at point to leave England four for one.

Heather Knight had made just nine before being bowled, with Sciver falling for 16 shortly after, in bizarre fashion, hitting it to slip off the back of her bat as England slumped to 42 for three.

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Jones then found some form with the bat after a poor Ashes series, passing 50 for the first time since September in ODI cricket, in a 107-run partnership with Tammy Beaumont (62) before falling for 53.

Sophia Dunkley and Katherine Brunt made useful contributions of 26 and 17 respectively as England reached 235 for nine from their 50 overs but they must now wait on results elsewhere to see if they will have a chance to defend the title they won at Lord’s in 2017.

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