Wolvaardt, Luus and Ismail help South Africa complete 3-0 sweep with 189-run victory in final ODI

Suné Luus, Laura Wolvaardt and Shabnim Ismail (From left to right) © Getty Images

Remarkable batting displays from opener Laura Wolvaardt and skipper Suné Luus and a belligerent bowling effort from spearhead Shabnim Ismail helped South Africa win the third ODI and sweep the three-match series 3-0 against hosts Ireland on Friday, June 17.

Ireland’s disciplined start

Opting to bat first after winning the toss, the Proteas looked in a spot of bother early in their innings.

The new-ball pair of Arlene Kelly and Jane Maguire landed a lot of deliveries in the corridor of uncertainty and with the wicket being on the slower side helped them contain both South African openers in Wolvaardt and Andrie Steyn. 

The accumulation of too many dot deliveries brought Ireland their first wicket as they ran Steyn out in the seventh over.

In walked Lara Goodall and her silken touch with the bat was on display early as she creamed the third delivery of her innings through the covers for an elegant cover drive.

 But Goodall, who had been a thorn in Ireland’s path throughout the series was shown the way back to the pavilion in the 14th over. 

She came down the track to off-spinner Rachel Delaney, missed a straighter delivery in an attempt to put it away over the ring, and was stumped by wicket-keeper Mary Waldron.

Barring Georgina Dempsey, who was wayward in her opening burst and got taken for 22 runs in the two overs that she bowled inside the first 15 overs, everyone else bowled well and it kept the Proteas to just 62/2 at the end of 15 overs (at 4.13 runs per over).

Watchful Wolvaardt

Having missed out in the previous two ODIs, Wolvaardt looked very circumspect from ball one. She was content with rotating the strike and blocked everything that landed in line with the stumps and around the good-length area. Having sensed that the wicket was on the slower side, Wolvaardt was not committing herself to her favourite shot – the full-blooded cover drive (as Ireland skipper Gaby Lewis had a fielder placed at short extra cover). 

But Wolvaardt and her cover drive are a match made in heaven and a bowling unit can’t keep them apart for long. She was finally presented with the opportunity on the penultimate delivery of the 13th over. She leant on a half-volley from Dempsey and threaded it through the in-field for a graceful cover drive.

Wolvaardt was quick to capitalize on the freebies that were offered to her by Ireland’s bowlers and kept the scoreboard ticking.

She was given a life on the first delivery of the 44th over when Dempsey failed to pouch a catch while diving towards her right but she couldn’t make the most of it as her vigil ended on the second delivery of the 45th over. Her downfall brought an end to the gigantic 177-run stand between her and Luus that drove their side into a position of strength.

ALSO READ: Bowlers, Steyn, Goodall help South Africa clinch ODI series with dominant win

Proactive Luus

When the Proteas lost Goodall, the onus came on skipper Luus to better the scoring rate and she didn’t disappoint either. Luus picked gaps with perfection and was quick to score boundaries whenever the Ireland spinners erred in terms of their line and length. 

She employed her sweep shot every time the spinners drifted down the leg-side and scored a bucket full of runs in the area behind square on the leg-side. She took the pressure off Wolvaardt and helped her navigate her innings without being bothered about the run rate.

Irish spinners provided South African batters lots of freebies, Cara Murray, and Leah Paul, in particular, were the two who strayed down the leg side a lot of times and Luus made them pay a hefty price for the same.

Luus constructed her innings superbly as she hardly gave any opportunities to the opposition to dictate terms to her and forced Ireland’s skipper Gaby Lewis to rethink her strategies in the middle as she placed the ball in the vacant areas with perfection.

Paul struggled for consistency as she was not able to land her deliveries according to her field and got taken for boundaries by both Luus and Wolvaardt in addition to the extras she conceded in terms of wides on either side of the stumps. Hence, she was taken out of the attack and could only bowl two overs.

Kelly charts Ireland’s comeback at the death

Ireland came back strongly in the death overs as they got rid of both the set batters in Wolvaardt and Luus, who looked set to bring their respective tons. Kelly was the one who scripted Ireland’s comeback at the death.

She first removed Chloe Tryon, who was looking to up the ante in a jiffy. Tryon’s timing was there for everyone to see as she just pushed a good length delivery from Kelly in the 46th over on the off side and it raced through the outfield for a boundary beating the sweeper who just had a few yards to cover to cut it off.

But before she could pile some real pain on Ireland, Kelly sent her packing. Two deliveries later, she outdid the South African skipper as Luus failed to slice a fuller delivery from her in the gap through third and point and ended up finding Delaney at third.

It was Ireland’s fine comeback that restricted the Proteas from posting an imposing total on the board. South Africa, who were once comfortably cruising towards 300, lost their momentum because of a flurry of wickets and ended up with 278 runs for the loss of five wickets in their 50 overs.

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Imposing Ismail

Chasing 279 to win, Ireland needed to get off to a good start but it wasn’t meant to be as Ismail wreaked havoc right from the outset. Ismail looked all pumped up as she drew her mark at the start of her run-up and set off to haunt Ireland. 

Her hostile bowling spell began with her grabbing Ireland’s arguably biggest match-winner with the bat in skipper Lewis. Lewis was nicked off on the fourth delivery of the first over as wicket-keeper Trisha Chetty grabbed a good catch.

It took Ismail just two more deliveries to strike again as she drew Delaney forward with a delivery that just tailed away slightly after pitching in the good length region and kissed the outside edge of Delaney’s bat to end in Chetty’s gloves.

Ismail’s scorching spell turned out to be too good for Ireland’s batters as she was able to beat them with sheer pace and the movement that she was able to extract with the new ball under overcast conditions. 

Paul, who had a miserable day with the ball was castled on the second delivery of the fifth over by Ismail to reduce Lewis’s side to 8/3. 

Having taken three wickets already on excellent deliveries, Ismail produced the ball of the match to claim Shauna Kavanagh as her fourth scalp for the day.

The delivery (last one of the seventh over) pitched in the good-length region on the fifth stump channel and nipped back sharply into Kavanagh to flick her leg stump bail.

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Rearguard action from Kelly and Mary Waldron

With 13 for the loss of five wickets in 12.3 overs, the hosts were in danger of bagging one of the lowest scores in the history of ODI cricket. But the pair of Kelly and wicket-keeper batter Waldron evaded the same. The duo took the conscious decision of not going after the required run rate and dug in to help Ireland avoid embarrassment.

They dealt mostly in singles and twos and put the odd delivery away to the boundary to give a sense of calmness in Ireland’s dressing room. Waldron looked poised to get her half-century but she missed a straighter one from Luus and was trapped in front at an individual score of 32.

Her dismissal broke the half-century stand between the pair and it all came down to Kelly. Waging a lone battle, Kelly tried her heart out but couldn’t get herself past an individual score of 29. She was run out as an excellent direct hit from Ayabonga Khaka from mid-off put curtains on her defiant knock in the 30th over.

Ireland eventually folded for 89 in 32.5 overs as Ismail came back to disturb the woodwork of leg-spinner Cara Murray and claim her ODI career’s second five-wicket haul.

Brief Scores: South Africa 278/5 in 50 overs (Sune Luus 93, Laura Wolvaardt 89; Arlene Kelly 2/40) beat Ireland 89 all out in 32.5 overs (Mary Waldron 32, Arlene Kelly 29; Shabnim Ismail 5/8, Sune Luus 2/27) by 189 runs; POTM: Suné Luus