Southern Stars v South Africa
Bolton, Lanning lead Stars to series win
Lizelle Lee smashed a terrific ton for the Proteas but it wasn't enough as Australia cruised to a series-clinching win
Laura Jolly at North Sydney Oval
23 November 2016, 10:30 PM AEST
Rapid reaction: A match-winning partnership between Nicole Bolton and Meg Lanning has seen the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars seal a series win over South Africa, despite an explosive century from Lizelle Lee.
The score: South Africa 8-273 off 32 overs (Lee 102, Harris 3-31) defeated by Australia 1-174 off 27.1 overs (Bolton 77no, Lanning 80no) by nine wickets in the third ODI at North Sydney Oval.
The heroes: After Elyse Villani was dismissed in a dramatic first over – having already survived a big lbw shout and scored two boundaries – opener Bolton and skipper Lanning joined in an unbeaten 161-run stand that ensured the chase never truly looked in doubt for the hosts. Bolton was disappointed after missing out in the first ODI and falling to a freak catch in the second, but shone under the lights of North Sydney Oval as she scored her sixth one-day half-century, finishing unbeaten on 77 off 83 balls.
Lanning looked the scratchier of the pair (at least, as scratchy as Meg Lanning can ever look) but having survived a couple of close calls early she found her groove as the innings progressed, adding another 80no off 75 to the record-breaking century she scored last match.
The consolation effort: After a soggy start to the match, Lizelle Lee's maiden one-day century lit up North Sydney. Australia had made two early strikes, removing in-form opener Sune Luus (7) and Dinesha Devnarain (2) to have the Proteas 2-33, but Lee swung the tide back in South Africa's favour as she took full advantage of the friendly batting conditions and short boundaries. The 24-year-old's knock of 102 came from just 89 balls and featured seven big sixes, helping set the hosts what could have been a challenging chase in a well-deserved player of the match performance. Handed a life on 43 when dropped by Megan Schutt at deep mid-on, Lee made Australia pay, backed up by Mignon du Preez, the pair sharing a damaging 110-run third-wicket stand.
The support acts: Grace Harris bowled extremely well in the face of Lee's onslaught and was rewarded with three wickets for her effort, while Jess Jonassen (1-31) was also key on containing the South African batters.
The collapse: Du Preez's dismissal for 36 sparked a collapse of 6-26 for the tourists, allowing Australia to peg the Proteas back late in the innings. South Africa had looked on track for a total of more than 200, but the Southern Stars' fightback with the ball, which included a direct-hit run out from Schutt, saved crucial runs.
The finger: Leg-spinner Kristen Beams has been in brilliant form for Australia, so there were plenty of worried teammates, coaches and fans when the 32-year-old dislocated her right pinkie finger during South Africa's innings. But after quickly popping off the field to have the errant digit popped back into its socket, Beams immediately took the ball and was the one to eventually stop Lee's onslaught on 102.
The collision: Nicole Bolton went head over heels after what looked like a painful collision with Proteas wicketkeeper Lee while dashing through for a quick single. The opener hit the ground hard but after a brief chat with the team physio, she brushed herself off and continued on for what turned out to be a superb innings.
The injury: Before the match, Australia were dealt a blow with in-form allrounder Ellyse Perry ruled out due to a groin injury. Perry, who scored 93no and 95no in the first two ODIs, is expected to be fit for the final two matches of the series in Coffs Harbour, with coaching and medical staff choosing not to risk the 26-year-old in today’s fixture after she pulled up sore following her starring knock at Manuka Oval. The allrounder – who came into the series with a less-than-ideal preparation following a knee injury – didn't bowl at training at Sydney University on Tuesday but had a light session with the bat in the nets.
The Women's Championship: Australia officially received the ICC Women's Championship trophy following the conclusion of their final match – and the last game overall – of the inaugural tournament. The Southern Stars finished with 18 wins from 21 matches, having only dropped one game apiece to England, India and New Zealand during the two-and-a-half-year Championship.
The weather: For the second match running rain came to the party, delaying the start of the game by more than three hours and forcing a reduction to 32 overs a side. Some light precipitation returned 10 overs into Australia's chase, but it wasn't heavy enough to prevent a result, again avoiding the need for the reserve day to come into play.
The wash-up: Australia have now taken an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-match series. The squad for the final two matches will be announced on Thursday morning and the action now heads to Coffs Harbour, where matches will be played on November 27 and 29. Both games kick off at 2.20pm local time, entry is FREE and if you can't make it, you can watch every ball live and free on cricket.com.au.