South Africa beat Bangladesh to seal semi-final spot
The tournament hosts have pulled off a great escape after losing to Sri Lanka in their opening group game, chasing down 114 in their final match of Group 1 to seal a spot in the semis.
And the Proteas will now face England in Friday’s second semi-final.
South Africa made a nervous start to the chase, with the young Bangladeshi bowlers causing all sorts of problems for Laura Wolvaardt and Tazmin Brits.
The home side managed just 26 runs in the Powerplay, but survived a number of scares to ensure that there were plenty of wickets in hand.
And they didn’t need that support, raising the scoring rate in the back third of the innings as both batters brought up half-centuries.
It was Player of the Match Wolvaardt who hit the winning runs, finishing unbeaten on 66* and wrapping up victory with 13 balls to spare.
The scenes in the stands and down in the dugout were a mix of relief and jubilation, as South Africa completed their great group-stage escape.
The evening’s action had started when the Tigresses won the toss and opted to bat first, no doubt inspired by England's record first-innings score on the same wicket just a few hours earlier.
But Bangladesh made a far more subdued start, reaching 23/2 at the end of the Powerplay.
Murshida Khatun was the first wicket to fall, dismissed by the experienced Marizanne Kapp without scoring.
And fellow opener Shamima Sultana joined her back in the dugout when she was caught off the fiery Shabnim Ismail.
The South African strike bowler conceded just five runs off her first two overs as the Proteas turned the screw, with Kapp going for six of her first two overs and spinner Nonkululeko Mlaba conceding just seven off her first two.
Decent knocks from Sobhana Mostary (27) and Nigar Sultana Joty (30) gave Bangladesh a platform, but quick runs were hard to come by as South Africa continued to keep the scoring under control.
Kapp and Ayabonga Khaka finished with two wickets apiece, with Mlaba and Ismail taking one each.
A late flurry from Nahida Akter (15* from 11) helped Bangladesh reach 113/6, but the home side would have been confident of their chances of chasing that target down, and Wolvaardt and Brits did just that.
Wolvaardt shows her class
Both South African openers scored half-centuries, but the manner in which they did so was in stark contrast.
While her opening partner scratched her way through the majority of the innings, Wolvaardt looked in control after some early struggles against the new ball.
Some of the shots that the right-hander played were a joy to behold, and it will be a huge boost to South Africa’s chances if she can replicate that sort of form in the knockout stage.
The semi-final line-up is confirmed
We now know who will feature in the final four of the tournament, with the group stage coming to a close with this match.
Defending champions Australia will face India in Thursday’s first semi-final at Newlands.
While South Africa will play England, who set their stall out with a thumping win over Pakistan earlier on Tuesday.
Plenty of positives for Bangladesh
The Tigresses may be homeward-bound after their fourth defeat in the group stage, but there is much reason for optimism.
In young Marufa Akter, Bangladesh have unearthed a real gem of a bowler, and she was unfortunate not to add to her wicket tally during a blistering opening spell against the Proteas.
Shorna Akter is another star of the U19 Women’s team who has made the step up to senior level with ease on the evidence of this tournament, while young Sobhana Mostary clearly has plenty of talent.
And with those two joining a steadily improving squad of established international players, the future looks far brighter than the results at this tournament may suggest.