South Africa edges NZ to stay unbeaten at Women's World Cup

Half centuries to Laura Wolvaardt and captain Sune Luus put South Africa on the road to victory as it chased down New Zealand’s total of 228 and rejoined Australia atop the points table in the tournament.

Marizanne Kapp of South Africa leaves the field after guiding her team to the win against New Zealand.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Marizanne Kapp made a nerveless 36 not out from 35 balls as South Africa beat New Zealand by two wickets with three balls remaining Thursday to stay unbeaten after four matches at the Women’s Cricket World Cup.

At Hamilton, New Zealand, half centuries to Laura Wolvaardt and captain Sune Luus put South Africa on the road to victory as it chased down New Zealand’s total of 228 and rejoined Australia atop the points table in the tournament.

But it was the veteran Kapp, who had taken 2-44 during the New Zealand innings, who was left to steer her team home in an increasingly nervous run chase.

HIGHLIGHTS | NZ-W v SA-W Women's World Cup Highlights: Kapp stars again as South Africa beats New Zealand by two wickets

“I think these games have to stop now, I’m tired,” the 32-year-old Kapp said. “Again it was a team effort, again we weren’t at our best but I believe the perfect game is just around the corner.

“I’m always nervous, I’m not going to lie. (Wolvaardt and Luus) batted well today but you can’t get too relaxed because, as you saw, the game can change like that. Luckily today we got away with the win and I’m happy to be standing on the winning side.”

South Africa needed 72 to win from 95 balls when Wolvaardt was out for 67 after her third consecutive half century at the tournament. It needed 59 from 59 balls when Luus was out for 51, with five wickets still intact in the 41st over.

There was an eerie symmetry between the New Zealand and South Africa innings as both captains played leading roles and as the teams scored at almost the same rate and endured late order collapses.

New Zealand captain Sophie Devine made 93 to set the platform for her team’s batting effort. She was out in the 41st over when New Zealand was well set up at 198-5 but saw her team lose its last five wickets for 30 runs.

Luus also was out in the 41st over but in Kapp, South Africa still had a player to manage its run chase.

South Africa needed 39 runs off its last six overs with five wickets in hand, 31 off its last five.

Chloe Tryon made 14 from 17 balls and began to play a useful hand but she was out when South Africa needed 31 from 29 balls.

Kapp hit two consecutive fours from the bowling of Lea Tahuhu in the 47th over which turned the match a little in South Africa’s favor, leaving it with 18 runs to score from 21 balls.

Wicketkeeper Trisha Chetty came and went quickly, falling to spinner Frankie Mackay when South Africa needed 18 from 17 balls.

With two overs remaining it came down to 14 off 12 balls and Devine bravely stepped up to bowl the penultimate over.

She immediately dismissed Shabnim Ismael for 4 to leave South Africa needing 12 runs from 10 balls. But Kapp gained the strike, hit a four and South Africa came to the last over needing six runs from six balls with Klaas on strike.

Mackay bowled the final over and Kapp struck the first ball for four, took a single from the second. Ayabonga Khaka was left on strike and she managed to turn the ball into a gap in the field for the winning single.

New Zealand’s future in the tournament now is tenuous with only two wins from five games. South Africa almost is assured of a place in the semifinals.

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