SA ready for their neme­sis

The Proteas have beaten the English only once but ex­pect fire­works to­day

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - ZAAHIER ADAMS

IF South Africa be­lieved they could slip un­der the radar at this ICC Women’s World Cup, com­fort­ably ac­cept­ing their un­der­dog sta­tus in hope­ful pro­gres­sion to the play­offs, their thrash­ing of the West Indies has cer­tainly blown that plan out of the wa­ter.

Sud­denly, Dane van Niek­erk’s team are on ev­ery­one’s radar, with the op­po­si­tion on high alert for the dan­gers the Proteas pose.

And in the true tra­di­tion of South African cricket, it is the pace bowlers that are gen­er­at­ing the ex­cite­ment with the new-ball pair of Shabim Is­mail and Marizanne Kapp in par­tic­u­lar be­ing feared.

“We’ll be ex­pect­ing a bit more pace on the ball com­pared to Sri Lanka, they’ve got a few slightly quicker bowlers than we have faced in the last two games, maybe slightly less spin. With the bat they’ve also got some re­ally de­struc­tive play­ers,” Eng­land cap­tain and the tour­na­ment’s lead­ing run­scorer Heather Knight said ahead of the crunch clash with the Proteas in Bris­tol to­day.

Lis­ten­ing to the op­po­si­tion talk­ing up their chances is some­thing the Proteas will need to get ac­cus­tomed to. But they will know that it can’t lead to in­flated egos, for the cold re­al­ity is that Eng­land have de­feated South Africa in 17 of their last 18 ODI meet­ings.

It would be a ma­jor sur­prise should South Africa claim the scalp of the hosts – a feat for­mer Eng­land bat­ter and now a BBC Test Match Spe­cial sum­mariser Ebony Rain­ford-Brent though felt was def­i­nitely within the reach of the Proteas in her tour­na­ment pre­view.

“South Africa are def­i­nitely go­ing to cause an up­set – they’re a mas­sively ris­ing team,” she wrote.

Proteas coach Hil­ton Moreeng is cer­tainly aware of the mighty chal­lenge that lies ahead for his team, but wants them to play the ball and not the woman.

“Eng­land are a very good team. We re­alise we are play­ing the home side, one of the favourite teams ear­marked to win the World Cup. They have al­ways given us a run for our money,” Moreeng said.

“But since we’ve landed here, we’ve wanted to worry about our skills and fo­cus on what we do best. The two teams know each other very well. It’s about who does the ba­sics well. At the mo­ment our squad is in a good space. We’re play­ing well and the team is mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion.”

There is fur­ther rea­son for op­ti­mism. De­spite’s South Africa’s dire record against the English, the Proteas were ac­tu­ally vic­to­ri­ous the last time th­ese two sides faced off against each other at the County Ground way back in 2003.

The hero­ine on that bliss­ful day for the Proteas was a 14-year-old school­girl Johmari Logten­berg, who shared a 136run part­ner­ship with Daleen Terblanche that set up a to­tal that was be­yond Eng­land’s reach.

South Africa have the youngest team at this ICC Women’s World Cup with 28-year-old’s Tr­isha Chetty and Is­mail the old­est in the squad. Af­ter all th­ese years, could it be the chance of an­other teenage bat­ter, Laura Wolvaardt, to set Bris­tol alight and in­flict dam­age on the English?

Mean­while, Chloe Tryon is also ready to light the fire­works up against Eng­land.

The South Africa bat­ter has been part of the in­ter­na­tional set-up since she was 16 and has now pro­gressed to be­ing vice-cap­tain of the side.

Her 92 off 68 balls against Ire­land in 2016 is her best score in ODIs to date but she would love to score her maiden hun­dred dur­ing the World Cup.

She scored three runs in the open­ing game against Pak­istan and then saw her chances of bet­ter­ing that hit by a wash-out against New Zealand in Derby.

She may have calmed her ex­plo­sive style down over the years, but she says she is still ca­pa­ble of bring­ing out the big shots if it feels right.

“I take each game as it comes, I like to play my nat­u­ral game,” Tryon said. “If it’s fire­works, it’s fire­works.

“I used to be a big hit­ter when I first came into the team but now I have es­tab­lished my­self a lot more try­ing to build an in­nings and get to that hun­dred.

“I feel like I’ve fallen short a bit too much now.

“I owe it to my­self to get over the line and make my first hun­dred. It would be the best place to do it at the World Cup. I came in about seven years ago and it’s been a good ride so far. I feel like I’m in my prime at the mo­ment, I’ve learned a lot on the way.

“A lot of other girls came in around the same time as me so we have a good un­der­stand­ing, it has been good.” – ad­di­tion re­port­ing by ANA

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