Unbeaten England sweep T20I leg as well to clinch multi-format series 14-2

England finished the series unbeaten © Getty Images

England put on a show with a clinical performance to end the multi-format series on 14-2 as they remained unbeaten against a struggling South Africa. After a came from Sophie Ecclestone took England to an imposing total, the visitors couldn’t keep up with the rate and eventually finished short by some way at the County Ground in Derby on Monday (July 25). The result meant the hosts clinched the T20I series – just like they did in the ODI leg – 3-0 having drawn the one-off Test.

Mlaba magic, Capsey cameo, and whirlwind power play

The night started with Chloe Tryon taking over the reigns for South Africa as Sune Luus sat out because of illness. Natalie Sciver continued to lead England as Heather Knight was still nursing her hip injury ahead of the Commonwealth Games. South Africa also had Shabnim Ismail missing out with a back niggle. England brought in the 17-year-old left-arm Freya Kemp to give her the international debut in the final match of the series.

Nonkululeko Mlaba, playing for the first time in the T20I series, struck immediately with the big wicket of in-form Sophia Dunkley to dismiss her for a first-ball duck. The dashing opener cut the left-arm spinner straight to backward point with Mlaba getting the ball to bounce more than the batter anticipated.

England – continuing with their intention of maximising the power play – promoted Alice Capsey to number three and the 17-year-old did her reputation no harm in her first international innings.

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In the second over of the match, Capsey walked down the track and tonked Masabata Klaas over mid-on for her first boundary and followed it up three more hits to the fence. She cut the third ball of the over through point before driving a fuller one to the cover boundary. Capsey completed the sequence of four consecutive fours with one to the backward square-leg fence.

The introduction of Ayabonga Khaka didn’t change things either. Danielle Wyatt and Capsey hit the pacer for one boundary each in the third over and when Wyatt welcomed Chloe Tryon with one through cover it looked like South Africa had more questions than answers.

England finished the power play with the score 53 for 2, but not before Mlaba had her last say as Capsey picked up the mid-off fielder in her second over.

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Resurrection by aggression

Once they lost two aggressors, Wyatt and skipper Natalie Sciver rebuilt the innings without compromising on their attacking intent. Sciver launched Delmi Tucker down the ground for a maximum before Wyatt cut Klass through point in the eighth over.

In the next over, Sciver took on Tucker again with a boundary to wide long-off and repeated the feat through long-on off Tryon. With the score reading 80 for 2 at the end of the tenth over, it looked like England were on course for a big score.

However, there was more Mlaba magic left as the left-arm spinner continued to attack the stumps and was rewarded with her third wicket as she castled Sciver for a run-a-ball 24.

Tryon took the lesson from Mlaba and got the big wicket of Wyatt next ball as she rattled the opener’s stumps to leave England at 86 for 4 in 11.1 overs.

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Cameos galore with Ecclestone putting the cherry on top

From 86 for 4, it was up to Amy Jones to get England out of the rut and she did exactly that. Jones reverse swept/pulled Tryon for her first boundary after a few frugal overs from South Africa. Despite losing Maia Bouchier to a run out, the wicket-keeper took on Klaas and hit her for consecutive boundaries in the 18th over before getting caught at the boundary. But she made sure that England wouldn’t limb to a finish after a strong start. Jones made 28 off just 18 balls as the hosts crossed 140 at the end of that over.

Walking in at eight in a long batting lineup, Ecclestone scored only seven runs from her first six balls and didn’t show any signs of the mayhem that followed. With Tryon opting to bowl Klaas – who didn’t have the greatest of days with the ball – in the final over, the batter made good use of her long levers.

Ecclestone started the over by putting a full toss for a four through point. She then had her second boundary in the over with Mlaba making a mis-field at short fine-leg. Fourth ball was on the slot and she hammered it over mid-wicket for a big six and fifth one went to the cover fence for a four. By the time Ecclestone launched Klaas over backward square-leg to end Klaas’ misery 26 runs had come from the over.

With Ecclestone scoring 33 not out off just 12 balls, England finished their innings on 176 for 6 from the stipulated 20 overs. For South Africa, Mlaba was the best bowler on display with figures of 3 for 22 from her four overs.

Maiden wickets and a sedate partnership

Issy Wong, coming back in place of Freya Davies, struck with the fourth ball of the opening over to help herself to her first T20I wicket. The pacer got the ball to come back against Lara Goodall and the southpaw’s stumps were rattled.

From there, Anneke Bosch and Tazmin Brits tried to set a platform for the chase and added 54 runs for the second wicket. Brits was the aggressor in the partnership even as Bosch struggled at the other end despite scoring two early boundaries.

Brits stepped down the track to hit Ecclestone for a four to long-on before collecting three boundaries in the Wong over. Another four of the sixth over meant South Africa ended the power play on 43 for 1.

But the scoring rate slowed down post the power play, and that eventually showed on Bosch when she overbalanced herself off a Kemp delivery in a brilliant over from the young bowler. Jones completed the proceedings with some quick glove work.

Mounting troubles and RRR

Once Bosch went, South Africa couldn’t form any partnership and none of the batters could go at the required strike rate. Laura Wolvaardt didn’t last long as she was trapped in front of the wicket by Ecclestone. Mignon du Preez tried hard with a few hits but found Capsey at cover. Brits got to her fourth fifty before she became Kemp’s second wicket for 59 off 57 balls.

By the time Tryon walked in, the target seemed out of reach for her with South Africa still needing 68 off 20 balls. And it was only inevitable when they fell short by a huge margin to end the series win-less.

Brief Scores: England 176/6 in 20 overs (Sophie Ecclestone 33*, Danielle Wyatt 30; Nonkululeko Mlaba 3/22) beat South Africa 138/6 in 20 overs (Tazmin Brits 59; Freya Kemp 2/18, Sophie Ecclestone 2/24) by 38 runs POTM: Sophie Ecclestone