Sune Luus’ 5-67 was in vain as the Proteas slumped to a 59-run defeat to Australia in the World Cup on Saturday.
Australia won the toss and decided to make first use of the Taunton wicket. The Proteas struggled to make the initial breakthrough as Beth Mooney and Nicole Bolton made a steady, if not spectacular start, adding 50 in the first 12 overs.
The bowlers were made to toil and Bolton took full advantage, reaching 50 with a boundary off Masabata Klaas.
Australia continued to dominate the proceedings for the first 20 overs as the openers saw their side past 100.
Mooney scored a fifty of her own to tighten Australia’s grip on proceedings, but Ayabonga Khaka finally found some success for South Africa when she had Mooney caught for 53.
Dane van Niekerk then made it two scalps in two overs when she dismissed Rachael Haynes shortly after her arrival at the wicket.
Bolton made the bowlers earn her wicket as she kept the runs flowing in the company of Ellyse Perry. Luus then accounted for Bolton, who had to depart the scene for 78.
The leg-spinner made it two in a row when she dismissed Elyse Villani first ball. Though she could not complete her hat-trick, she swung the momentum in the Proteas’ favour.
Perry re-asserted the Australians’ dominance, however, by reaching her fifth consecutive half-century. Luus made it three scalps soon thereafter when Perry was caught for a valuable 55.
Three wickets fell in the next three overs, of which Luus claimed two, as she completed her fourth five-wicket haul of her career.
Marizanne Kapp chipped in with a pair of wickets in the 48th over, which derailed the Aussies’ bid to score 300, the No 1 ODI side stuttering to 269-8.
The Proteas made a good start to their chase, Laura Wolvaardt and Lizelle Lee adding 32 for the first wicket. Haynes was the first to strike, dismissing the destructive Lee for nine.
Wolvaardt and Trisha Chetty took the attack to the Australians and were on course to pass the 100-mark before Chetty fell for a 54-ball 37.
Budding partnerships which ended prematurely characterised the chase.
Mignon du Preez kept SA in the hunt, and together with the 18-year-old Wolvaardt she advanced the score to 132, during which time Wolvaardt completed another fifty in her young career.
Her departure for 71 with the score on 148 was a massive blow to the Proteas’ hopes of victory.
Soon after, Kapp’s dismissal in the 37th over triggered a spectacular capitulation. The Proteas lost five wickets for 22 runs, which wrecked any hopes of victory.
A brave 10th-wicket stand of 26 by Shabnim Ismail and Mosaline Daniels helped the Proteas labour past 200, but ultimately they could not prevent a heavy defeat.
The Proteas will be looking to bounce back in time for their semi-final clash with England on Tuesday.
Photo: Julian Herbert-IDI/Getty Images