Newlands: Australia sealed their sixth ICC Women’s T20 World Cup title with a clinical 19-run victory over hosts South Africa at Newlands.
Beth Mooney’s 74 not out anchored Australia’s innings with a series of impressive shots, but the holders will have felt their 156 for six was below par in Cape Town.
South Africa struggled to get going in response, the pressure of the home crowd perhaps weighing on them, before a 55-run partnership between Laura Wolvaardt and Chloe Tryon gave them hope.
But it was not to be as serial winners Australia discovered their ruthless streak again to close out another World Cup final.
Having chosen to bat, Australia made a steady start even as a sold-out Newlands roared on each dot ball.
Alyssa Healy survived a review for LBW off the final ball of Shabnim Ismail’s first over but she could not withstand the pace and height of a Marizanne Kapp delivery, departing for 18 having sent a comfortable catch to Nadine de Klerk on the edge of the inner circle.
Ismail made the wicket count double as she bowled a maiden over to Mooney, but Ashleigh Gardner found her groove having being promoted up the order, hitting back-to-back fours off Nonkululeko Mlaba, before smashing two sixes in a row from two De Klerk deliveries.
By the halfway mark, Australia had reached 73 for one and it was up to Kapp to stop the scoring, not conceding a boundary in the 11th over.
Gardner departed an over later, attempting to go down the ground but instead finding Sune Luus, who ran round to take a fine diving catch on the boundary.
Australia continued however, as, even with Grace Harris at the other end, Mooney took on the power hitting, scoring back-to-back boundaries with innovative shot placement.
Harris got her customary boundary before she was bowled attempting a swipe at a delivery that kept low from Mlaba to leave Australia in the balance at 103 for three after 14.1 overs.
Lanning then departed for 10 as Tryon was the next to take a fantastic diving catch on the boundary, but Mooney released the pressure three balls later as she brought up her fifty with a four, becoming the first woman to hit two half-centuries in T20 World Cup finals, having also done so in 2020.
Smart running and regular boundaries helped Australia past 150 but Ismail restricted them to not much more than that, dismissing Ellyse Perry for seven before getting Georgia Wareham the very next ball.
Tahlia McGrath dealt with the hat-trick ball to end Australia’s innings with a single to set South Africa 157 to win.
Where heroes were needed for South Africa, only hesitancy was found, with Brits the first to go for 10 from 17 thanks to McGrath’s steady pair of hands.
Wolvaardt showed a sign of things to come as she hit Jess Jonassen for a six but Australia reeled them back in as Kapp mistimed an attempted big shot off Gardner to go for a run-a-ball 11.
With 10 overs gone, South Africa had made 52 for two and matters were about to get worse as Luus ran herself out with poor calling.
Big hitter Tryon emerged into the middle and she made a world of difference as she and Wolvaardt soon returned to the cauldron of Newlands noise it had been earlier in the day.
A wayward over from McGrath went for 14 before Wareham was pumped for 15 with Wolvaardt then bring up her fifty with a beautiful shot, reaching the milestone of 43 balls.
Ashleigh Gardner of Australia poses after being named Player of the Tournament following the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Final match between Australia and South Africa at Newlands Stadium on February 26, 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Gardner calmed Australia down, conceding only six runs, as Megan Schutt then delivered the sucker-punch, dismissing Wolvaardt LBW, the opener trudging back to the dugout having given South Africa hope with her 61 from 48.
Two wickets in three balls crushed South Africa’s chances as Tryon was bowled by Jess Jonassen for 25 before Anneke Bosch was run out for one.
With 26 needed off the final over, the crowd quietened as smart bowling from Player of the Tournament Gardner sealed a third T20 World Cup title in a row.
Newlands rose to cheer Australia as they celebrated adding another trophy to their cabinet and another reason to be considered the greatest team in the history of women’s cricket.