England women lose to South Africa by six wickets in T20 thriller
|Women's T20 tri-series, Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton:|
|England 160-5 (20 overs): Beaumont 71, Knight 35*, Ismail 2-27|
|South Africa 166-4 (19.3 overs): Lee 68, Luus 63*, Shrubsole 2-24|
|South Africa won by six wickets|
South Africa earned their first win of the women's tri-series, and only their second over England in the Twenty20 format, in dramatic fashion at Taunton.
While never threatening to match the record 250 score they made against the Proteas on Wednesday, England posted 160-5 thanks to Tammy Beaumont's 71.
But they were left to rue a number of dropped catches as opener Lizelle Lee smashed 68, including six sixes.
Sune Luus' unbeaten 63 saw them home by six wickets with three balls to spare.
England now host New Zealand at the same venue at 17:40 BST - and will hope not to emulate the Proteas, who suffered back-to-back defeats on Wednesday when it was their turn to play two games in a day.
Lee and Luus benefit from loose fielding
Anya Shrubsole had struck an early blow, bowling Laura Wolvaardt for a golden duck in the first over, but Lee and Luus profited from England's occasionally haphazard fielding to share a second-wicket stand of 103 - South Africa's highest T20 partnership against England.
Lee will again attract criticism for her role as stand-in wicketkeeper after fumbling an easy chance to stump Sarah Taylor, although she did complete her first dismissal of the tour by stumping Katherine Brunt late in England's innings.
However, Lee's powerful hitting as an opener in this format has never been questioned - and she set the tone by helping the first ball of the innings from Shrubsole away for four down the leg side, before lifting Brunt's first delivery for six backward of square leg.
The right-hander continued to pepper the legside boundary, but was dropped four times - on 14, 24, 41 and 50.
By the time her 37-ball knock was ended, South Africa still needed 52 from 47 balls, but that was the cue for Luus to show what she had failed to deliver so far on the tour.
After scores of 0, 2, 0, 0 and 3 not out in her first five innings in England, Luus owed her promotion to number three to the late withdrawal of Stacy Lackay through illness just before the toss,
But the 22-year-old played a mature innings, supporting Lee well before nervelessly seeing her side home - with nine runs needed from the last over, she hit Brunt for two fours and a six.
Beaumont leads the way for England again
While it was a bad day for England in the field, coach Mark Robinson will take heart from how opener Beaumont's purple patch with the bat has continued, even though the team as a whole failed to hit a single six.
After back-to-back centuries in the last two one-day internationals against South Africa, Beaumont then flogged the Proteas for 116 from 52 balls on Wednesday.
Although this innings - 71 from 59 - was more measured, it contained plenty of invention as the Kent right-hander swept, reverse-swept, ramped and scooped her way past 50 again.
While a fourth successive hundred looked out of reach as the final overs approached, Beaumont once again provided the backbone for England's innings, aided by some sensible batting from captain Heather Knight, who helped herself to 35 not out from 20 balls.
Anya Shrubsole (2-24) was again England's most economical bowler, helping to take the game to the last over, while teenage spinner Sophie Ecclestone (2-35) bounced back well after taking some early punishment.
'South Africa made us pay' - what they said
England captain Heather Knight on Sky Sports: "Credit to South Africa, they hit the ball well and made us pay for those dropped chances. I thought our score was slightly above par but we made a few errors in the field."
South Africa skipper Dane van Niekerk on Sky Sports: "I'm very relieved - we were hit all over the place the other day but the bowlers came back well. Sune Luus batted a good two hours in the nets yesterday and her hard work paid off today."
BBC Test Match Special commentator Natalie Germanos: "Just about everything has gone right for South Africa. There have been one or two glitches, but for them to come back after those two huge defeats on Wednesday was something very special."