Laura Wolvaardt scored 80 off 79 balls as the Proteas beat India by three wickets in their final league-stage match of the Women’s World Cup.
South Africa will face England in the semi-finals on Thursday (3am SA time), with Australia taking on the West Indies on Wednesday.
Fifties from Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma and Mithali Raj took India to 274-7 in their 50 overs after opting to bat first in Christchurch.
South Africa, though fought back brilliantly in the death overs, using short and slower balls to great effect to put a lid on the scoring.
At one point, India looked set to finish on a score close to 300 but the Proteas managed to pull things back, giving away just 51 runs in the last 10 overs.
India got off to a good start in the field when a direct hit from Harmanpreet Kaur found Lizelle Lee well short of her ground in the fifth over. Thereafter, however, the Proteas dominated the Indian bowling, with Wolvaardt and Lara Goodall (49) coming to the party.
Wolvaardt was the aggressor in the partnership, scoring boundaries regularly to take the pressure off her team in the powerplay. Goodall, who played second fiddle up to that point, was soon among the boundaries after the fielding restrictions were lifted.
However, India struck twice in two overs to remove the two set batters. Goodall was beaten in the air and off the surface by Rajeshwari Gayakwad and stumped by Richa Ghosh, before Harmanpreet Kaur went through Wolvaardt’s gates.
Suné Luus and Mignon du Preez settled the nerves, adding 37 runs for the fourth wicket, but Kaur’s golden arm then broke the stand as she trapped the skipper in front for 22.
Marizanne Kapp, South Africa’s crisis woman in the tournament, kept her cool despite the rising required run rate and kept finding the boundaries to put the pressure back on the Indian spinners. Together with Mignon du Preez, they stitched together a 57-run partnership.
Du Preez was given a reprieve in the 44th over, with Mandhana dropping a regulation catch in the deep, but India made up for it by running out Kapp two balls later.
Needing 45 off 30, the tide shifted in the Proteas’ favour in the next two overs, with Chloe Tryon and Du Preez finding five boundaries to bring the required run rate down to almost run-a-ball.
Gayakwad struck in the final ball of the 46th over, completing a simple return catch off Tryon’s leading edge.
With 14 needed off two, the Proteas took seven runs off the penultimate over.
Du Preez got to her fifty in the final over but Trisha Chetty was run-out off the same ball as they tried to steal a double.
With three runs needed from just two balls, Du Preez picked out the fielder at long-on but was brought back to the middle when replays revealed that Deepti Sharma had bowled a no-ball.
Du Preez needed one off the last ball and she came down the wicket to hit it for a boundary.
– Edited report from Cricket World Cup website