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Gaby Lewis stars for Ireland in registering upset win over South Africa

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Dublin, June 4 (Ajit Weekly News) A superb, disciplined all-round display, led by skipper Gaby Lewis, saw Ireland claim just their second-ever victory over South Africa in women’s T20I cricket at Pembroke Cricket Club and take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

It was a record-breaking Friday on two fronts for first-time captain Gaby Lewis. At 21, she became the youngest person to captain Ireland while, with the bat, she overtook Clare Shillington to become Ireland’s leading run-scorer in women’s T20I cricket. Her partnership with Leah Paul set the tone for Ireland’s glorious day.

Having been inserted in to bat by South Africa, the hosts reached 40 without loss at the end of the powerplay. Gaby raced out of the blocks, scoring a flurry of boundaries in the opening six overs. She was particularly impressive against the pace of Shabnim Ismail, with an assured cover drive in the fourth over was arguably the shot of the day.

Leah was more watchful in the opening stages but grew into her innings well, latching onto anything short and maintaining the tempo set by her partner at the other end. She finished her innings with a T20I career-best score of 47 in just her second innings while opening the batting in T20Is.

The 98-run opening stand was Ireland’s joint third-highest in women’s T20I cricket with Gaby involved in all of Ireland’s top four partnerships in the format. After Gaby was run-out for 52, South Africa made a comeback, with seamer Tumi Sekhukhune taking three wickets in the 20th over as Ireland slumped from 107/2 to 143/7 in 20 overs.

On a true pitch and a fast outfield, Ireland enjoyed a dream start in their defence as Rachel Delaney claimed the wicket of Lara Goodall with the very first ball of the innings, edging the ball behind to Mary Waldron.

A second breakthrough followed soon after as Arlene Kelly completed a sharp return catch to remove Tazmin Brits. Kelly, in her first game for Ireland, consistently swung the ball into the right-handers and complementing the frugal Jane Maguire at the other end who generally sought to move the ball away.

Maguire’s opening spell of 0/10 in three overs kept South Africa in check as the required rate quickly went past eight runs per over. The spin of Cara Murray removed Laura Wolvaardt, who was beginning to bat with ominous control, for 20.

When Celeste Raack accounted for Anneke Bosch in the 14th over, the required rate had risen above 10 runs per over and the hosts looked set for the win. With 48 needed off the last five overs, South Africa captain Sune Luus and Chloe Tryon provided a timely reminder of their collective class, reducing the equation to 33 from four overs with the momentum very much on their side.

Chloe was in a destructive mood, racing to 14 off six to keep South Africa in the contest. That momentum was arrested by Arlene who returned to the attack and conceded just six in the 17th over.

Leah, who earned the ‘Player of the Match’ award, was entrusted with the 18th, and repaid her skipper’s faith by having Chole stumped. South Africa needed 18 runs off the final over but Ireland kept their calm to register just their second ever win over South Africa in women’s T20I cricket.

Brief scores: Ireland 143/7 in 20 overs (Gaby Lewis 52, Leah Paul 47; Tumi Sekhukhune 3/32, Sune Luus 1/12) beat South Africa 133/7 in 20 overs (Anneke Bosch 29, Chloe Tryon 26; Arlene Kelly 2/25, Rachael Delany 1/0) by 10 runs.

–Ajit Weekly News

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