Ireland 143 for 7 (Lewis 52, Paul 47, Sekhukhune 3-32) beat South Africa 133 for 7 (Bosch 29, Kelly 2-25) by 10 runs

Ireland, led by the youngest captain in their history, Gaby Lewis, beat South Africa for only the second time in 11 T20I meetings to stun the fifth-ranked side and take a lead in the three-match series. Ireland are ranked 12th in T20s and their only previous victory over South Africa came in August 2016.
Five South Africa and three Ireland players from that match were involved in this one, including Lewis. Together with Leah Paul, she broke her own record for Ireland’s highest opening partnership against South Africa, set Ireland up for a famous win and claimed a slice of history herself. Lewis is the first daughter of a former Ireland captain to lead the national side, after her father Alan Lewis captained the men’s team.

Starting strong
Lewis and Paul took advantage of a lacklustre South African effort in the first half of their innings and raced to 83 without loss in the first 10 overs. In doing so, they also posted the highest first-wicket partnership for Ireland against South Africa, beating the 78 shared between Lewis and Clare Shillington in Ireland’s previous 2016 victory. None of the six bowlers South Africa used up to that point threatened at all, as they struggled to adjust to the slow pace of the pitch. They offered many deliveries that were too short and both Lewis and Paul were strong on the pull in response. The pair went on to share in a stand of 98, 16 short of Ireland’s highest opening stand against any team.

South Africa claw back
None of South Africa’s bowlers could remove Lewis, who notched up her sixth T20I half-century, but some commitment in the field did. She was run-out at the non-striker’s end to bring an authoritative knock to a close. But it was only in the next over, when Shabnim Ismail was brought back on and used the slower ball to have Paul caught at mid-on, that South Africa were able to properly apply the brakes.

Ireland were 107 for 2 after 14 overs and could only manage 36 runs off the next six overs, while also losing five wickets. Tumi Sekhukhune, whose first three overs cost 27 runs, came back well to take three wickets in her final over and ensure no one outside Ireland’s top four got into double-figures. Still, Ireland achieved their highest total against South Africa in T20Is, three runs more than their previous highest of 140 for 4 in a losing cause in 2016.

Ireland strike immediately
South Africa opted to experiment with a new opening pair – Lara Goodall and Tazmin Brits – and it backfired. Offspinner Rachel Delaney was asked to open the bowling against the left-handed Goodall and had her caught behind off the first ball of South Africa’s reply, in the course of delivering a maiden first over.

And then get the big wicket
South Africa held Laura Wolvaardt back to No. 4 and she provided some stability, but her attempt to add impetus to the innings in the ninth over failed. She tried to cut Cara Murray but Celeste Raack took a good catch, low at backward point, to send the Ireland players into wild celebrations.

Cat-and-mouse to the end
With 48 runs needed off the last five overs, Chloe Tryon had the ideal opportunity to show off her finishing skills. She took 15 runs off the 16th over, bowled by Murray, including a casual-as-you-like six over midwicket to ease the pressure on her captain Sune Luus. But Lewis had a trump card up her sleeve. She tasked Paul, whose first two overs went for 16 runs, with bowling the 18th over. Tryon was well outside her crease when she went for a slog, missed and was stumped. Luus was South Africa’s last real chance but she was bowled by debutant Arlene Kelly in the penultimate over. South Africa needed 18 runs to win off the last over and neither Nadine de Klerk nor Ismail could get them there.