Sarah Taylor stars as England Women beat South Africa Women 2-1
By Oli Burley
Last Updated: 22/02/16 10:44am
Sarah Taylor's third consecutive fifty propelled England Women to a series-clinching, four-wicket victory over South Africa Women in the third T20 international in Johannesburg.
Taylor followed up knocks of 74no and 66 with an elegant 60 off 40 balls as the visitors played positively to romp to their target of 132 in just 15.3 overs.
The 26-year-old - who passed 2,000 T20i runs from 76 innings in the process - had earlier helped reduce South Africa's top-order to the rubble of 6-3 by pulling off a smart leg-side stumping to remove Trisha Chetty off the second ball of the hosts' innings.
Anya Shrubsole (2-28) swiftly ended Dane van Niekerk's hopes of a third straight fifty, finding middle stump through the gate, and bowled Marizanne Kapp first ball as she looked to hit to leg.
But a bold, resolute stand of 89 in 14.2 overs for the fourth wicket between Lizelle Lee (69no off 61 balls) and Mignon du Preez (39) not only stopped the rot but revived South Africa's hopes of victory.
Lee struck 14 runs off four Jenny Gunn deliveries to help turn the tide, surviving a tough chance in the deep to Knight before reaching her fourth T20 International fifty one ball after Knight had atoned by throwing down the stumps from long off to run out Du Preez - South Africa finished on 131-4 from their 20 overs.
England's chase flew out of the blocks as Amy Jones, promoted up the order to pinch-hit, struck 14 off Shabnim Ismail's first five balls before snicking the last ball of the first over behind.
Skipper Charlotte Edwards fell cheaply, flicking left-armer Chloe Tryon to deep square where Lee safely held the chance, but Taylor, striking the ball crisply from the off, drove with style and swept both sides of the wicket to expertly find the gaps.
Together with Heather Knight, who contributed a cavalier 25 off 18 balls, Taylor added 62 in seven overs for the third wicket to all but wrap up the match.
South Africa kept fighting to the end after Knight had top-edged a slog behind, Taylor falling to a fine, diving left-handed catch by Van Niekerk off her own bowling and Ismail bowling Nat Sciver and Danni Wyatt in the space of three balls.
But Gunn cut her first ball for four before ending the match and series in style by hitting Van Niekerk for four over wide long-on, England Women finishing on 133-6 in 15.3 overs.
England captain Charlotte Edwards: "We have not been at our best with the ball or in the field on this trip so that is something we need to improve on, although we have missed [injured] Katherine Brunt in both of those departments.
"The way we batted was outstanding, though - [coach] Mark Robinson always wants us to take the positive option and that has really transferred into our batting. We often play our best cricket in big tournaments so hopefully we can take that into the World T20."
Watch highlights of today's match at 4.30pm on Sky Sports 2, then join us for live coverage of the ICC Women's World T20 live on Sky Sports in March.