England made it two from two at the Women’s T20 World Cup when 18-year-old Alice Capsey’s rapid 51 from 22 balls set up a four-wicket win over Ireland in Paarl on Monday.
Host South Africa put in a strong performance in the field to bowl New Zealand out for 67 and win by 65 runs to get back on track after surprisingly losing the tournament opener to Sri Lanka.
England’s victory kept it top of Group 2 ahead of India having played a game more. South Africa is third in Group 1 behind Sri Lanka and Australia and still has work to do to progress. The top two teams from each group go through to the semifinals.
England’s route to victory should have been much easier after bowling the Irish out for just 105 in 18.2 overs, spinners Sophie Ecclestone (3-13), Sarah Glenn (3-19) and Charlie Dean (2-26) collecting eight wickets.
But England’s chase stuttered straight away when Sophia Dunkley tried to heave one over the top in the first over and was caught at mid-on by Arlene Kelly.
Capsey put England back on course as she raced to her half-century in just 21 balls, hammering 46 in boundaries with 10 fours and a six. It was a match-winning intervention by a player who looked likely to miss the World Cup when she broke her collarbone diving for a catch against West Indies in December.
Her recovery — aided by screws and a metal plate in her shoulder — came quicker than expected and she did enough to set up the win, even when wickets fell after she was out.
Capsey’s dismissal, to a diving catch in the outfield by Leah Paul, sparked a run of five English wickets for 33 runs before Katherine Sciver-Brunt and Ecclestone saw their team home.
No. 2-ranked England reached 107-6 in 14.2 overs for a scratchy win and faces a big test against No. 4 India in its next match on Saturday.
South Africa was under pressure after Friday’s failure on opening night against the Sri Lankans. And the home batting against New Zealand wasn’t convincing, posting 132-6 as allrounder Chloe Tryon top-scored with 40 in the middle order.
South Africa won it in the field. Left-arm spinner Nonkululeko Mlaba had New Zealand opener Bernadine Bezuidenhout stumped from the second ball of the innings and the home team picked up wickets regularly from there.
Mlaba finished with 3-10 and fellow slow bowler Tryon 2-12 on Paarl’s spin-friendly pitch.
New Zealand’s 67 came two days after it was bowled out for 76 to lose by 97 runs to defending champion Australia in its first game. South Africa plays the top-ranked Aussies next.