After finally snapping the country's cricketing semi-final curse, South Africa now have the belief they can take down the mighty Australians in the final
Proteas dare to dream after ending semi-final hoodoo
South Africa are daring to dream after derailing England's World Cup campaign with a stunning semi-final upset at Newlands.
The Proteas' fighting six-run win over an in-form and supremely confident England on Friday evening has set up a mouth-watering showdown between the hometown heroes and five-time champions Australia.
In six T20I meetings, South Africa have never taken down Australia, who go in as red-hot favourites having lost just one 20-over international since March 2021.
But opener and semi-final hero Tazmin Brits believes the Proteas are hitting their straps at just the right time, after making history as the first South African senior team, men's or women's, to make a World Cup final.
It snapped a streak of 11 losing semi-finals across the two teams.
"I think today we almost basically clicked," Brits said. "The batting was a lot better, the bowling – maybe the Powerplay could have been a bit better – but I'm hoping everything clicks against Australia.
"I think we've always believed that we can do it."
Making the final was a scenario few envisaged for the Proteas at the start of this tournament.
Their preparations were overshadowed by debate over regular captain Dane van Niekerk's controversial omission from the squad after she missed a 2km time trial target by 18 seconds.
Then they dropped their opening game of the tournament to Sri Lanka.
A convincing victory over New Zealand got them back on track, but still, after a six-wicket defeat to Australia, the Proteas were left needing to beat Bangladesh in the final group stage game to lock in their semi-final spot.
Friday's triumph was easily their best display with bat and ball so far, as they put on 4-164 then restricted England to 8-158.
It was only the fourth time they had beaten England in a T20I.
The crowd of 7,547 at the 18,000 capacity Newlands Cricket Ground provided the raucous backdrop to South Africa's victory, and Shabnim Ismail said afterwards the team had ridden the wave of crowd support – one that was unlike anything they had experienced previously.
More than 9,000 tickets have already been sold for Sunday's final and with the hosts now set to feature, the remaining seats are expected to be in high demand.
"We knew that we had friends and family and millions of people all around the world and in South Africa as well that were supporting us," Ismail said.
"The crowd gave us that extra boost, knowing that we can do it ... it just gave us that extra momentum to get over the line today.
"I've been playing for 16 years so it's really emotional for me to get over that (semi-final) hurdle.
"We've been to semi-finals and we kept on losing to England in the semi-final, so just for us to get over that hurdle, that means a lot to us.
"We spoke about not letting the pressure get to us, just play calm cricket and that's what's going to get us through on finals day."
ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2023
Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Alyssa Healy (vc), Darcie Brown, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Heather Graham, Grace Harris, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham
Australia's T20 World Cup 2023 fixtures
Feb 11: beat New Zealand by 97 runs
Feb 14: beat Bangladesh by eight wickets
Feb 16: beat Sri Lanka by 10 wickets
Feb 18: beat South Africa by six wickets
Feb 23: Australia beat India by five runs
Feb 24: South Africa beat England by six runs
Feb 26: Australia v South Africa, Newlands, Cape Town, 3pm local (12am Feb 27 AEDT)