Ireland tormented by Goodall yet again as South Africa seal ODI series win

Gaby Lewis notches half-century in improved batting display but visiting Proteas prove too good again

South Africa (217-1, 38.4 overs) (Lara Goodall 93*, Andrie Steyn 84*; Georgina Dempsey 1-59) beat Ireland (213-8, 50 overs) (Gaby Lewis 59, Georgina Dempsey 45*; Shabnim Ismail 3-31) by nine wickets.

Ireland must be sick of the sight of Lara Goodall. Across five matches for South Africa this summer, the top order batter is averaging 75 after another unbeaten knock on Tuesday — running out of runs to get while on 93 this time — saw South Africa to a series-clinching nine-wicket victory over Ireland at Clontarf.

With one ODI to left to play on Friday, the tourists have an unassailable 2-0 series lead to go with a 2-1 victory in the T20s played over the last two weeks.

Goodall was more than ably partnered by Andrie Steyn, the opener ending not out on 84 as South Africa bettered Ireland’s 213 for eight — their best ODI score against South Africa — just one wicket down in the 39th over.

Ireland’s first innings total — after being asked to bat at the toss — was a significant improvement on the 69 they mustered in their last outing. Skipper Gaby Lewis top scored with 59, her second half-century of this international summer, while Sophie MacMahon impressed with 42 off 38 balls in the middle overs. 17-year-old Georgina Dempsey built on a recent impressive cameo, ending unbeaten on 45 to take Ireland to something to bowl at on a slow pitch.

Shabnim Ismail continued to showcase her skills with the ball early on, setting up Ireland opener Leah Paul with a textbook sequence of multiple outswingers followed by a booming inswinger to remove her off stump. Lewis and number three Rachel Delaney found scoring difficult against the new ball pairing of Ismail and Ayabonga Khaka, the 10-over power play just going for 17 runs including a sole boundary with the field up.

From there, the control South Africa had with the ball dried up as their spinners offered too many easy scoring chances. Captain Sune Luus opted to bowl off-spinners Raisibe Ntozakhe and Delmi Tucker in a bid to turn the ball in to Lewis and take away her strong offside game, but the width they offered outside the off stump gave the Ireland captain countless opportunities to punish them through the covers, which she impressively did.

Lewis risked running out of partners a touch when Delaney nicked behind off Nadine de Klerk, Mary Waldron played for turn that wasn’t there when also finding the edge and Sarah Forbes was run out by a brilliant Laura Wolvaardt throw across her body, but MacMahon offered her skipper the required support.

She made scoring easy on what was a slow Clontarf pitch, punishing South Africa after Goodall dropped her at mid off with a series of boundaries down the ground.

Ireland’s boundary-hitting momentum stalled when Lewis was bowled after missing a reverse sweep and MacMahon saw her off stump disturbed by a beautiful de Klerk delivery that jagged past her outside edge, but Dempsey avoided the dot balls that have plagued Ireland at the death of late to combine with Arlene Kelly, debutant Alana Dalzell and Jane Maguire to ensure Ireland batted their allotted overs.

South Africa went a long way to winning the game in their power play, reaching 56 for one without having to take any risks. Maguire bowled a touch too straight to Steyn who scored plenty off her pads, while Kelly offered width looking to bring the ball back in to Wolvaardt, the opener playing a number of gorgeous shots both on the front and back foot through the offside.

Dempsey snared the key wicket of Wolvaardt for the second consecutive match when late movement through the air forced a leading edge to Leah Paul at midwicket, but that just brought Ireland’s tormentor-in-chief Goodall to the wicket.

She offered one sharp chance to a leaping Dalzell at midwicket, but when the ball burst through her hands Ireland’s chances of an upset win also fell to the turf as Goodall and Steyn offered no further opportunities in their unbeaten 165-run stand. An expensive power play with the ball and a lack of scoreboard pressure thereafter, despite an economical period from the spinners in the middle overs, ultimately proved Ireland’s undoing.

Nathan Johns

Nathan Johns is an Irish Times journalist