Feel good Proteas good to go

Van Niek­erk leads her team to World Cup semis in a dom­i­nat­ing dis­play over hap­less Sri Lanka

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - ZAAHIER ADAMS

THIS has the po­ten­tial to turn into some­thing spe­cial for the Proteas. Some­thing re­ally spe­cial. All the years of be­ing pas­sen­gers on their own jour­ney, this group of women have taken hold of the steer­ing wheel and driven them­selves all the way to the ICC World Cup semi­fi­nals with a round-robin game to spare.

“It’s all a bit sur­real. The girls have worked re­ally hard on try­ing to achieve this. It’s ac­tu­ally quite in­sane,” Proteas cap­tain Dane van Niek­erk told In­de­pen­dent Me­dia ex­clu­sively from Taun­ton.

“No goal is achieved yet though. We here to win a World Cup and we’ve still got one match left against Aus­tralia and then the semis, so still lots of work ahead.”

South Africa’s qual­i­fi­ca­tion was se­cured af­ter they had trounced Sri Lanka ear­lier on yes­ter­day, be­fore watch­ing Aus­tralia beat In­dia and New Zealand fall short against Eng­land.

From the first ball to the last ball the Proteas were ahead of Sri Lanka in their penul­ti­mate group match. They duly won by eight wick­ets af­ter com­fort­ably pass­ing Sri Lanka’s measly 101 with 161 balls still at their dis­posal.

Van Kiek­erk claimed 4/24 – her third four-wicket haul of this Women’s World Cup – to push her over­all tally to 13, which el­e­vated her to the top of tour­na­ment’s list of high­est wicket-tak­ers.

South Africa have only ever once reached the semi-fi­nals of the global jam­boree in five pre­vi­ous at­tempts. That was way back in 2000 in Aus­tralia un­der the lead­er­ship of Daleen Terblanche.

For all Terblanche’s fight­ing qual­i­ties in try­ing to pro­mote the women’s game that now serves the likes of Van Niek­erk so well, the cur­rent Proteas skip­per is ar­guably su­pe­rior in lead­er­ship and skill.

Of­fer­ing scant re­gard for a venue renowned for favour­ing the bat­ters, Van Niek­erk and her bowl­ing unit ran through a Sri Lankan bat­ting line-up that sim­ply never got go­ing once their ace opener Chamari Ata­p­attu fell to Marizanne Kapp’s first ball.

Van Niek­erk con­tin­u­ously harps on about how she’s not happy with her de­liv­ery of the ball, but it cer­tainly is work­ing for the skip­per at the mo­ment. Not a sig­nif­i­cant turner of the ball like her fel­low leg­gie Sune LEAD­ING FROM THE FRONT: Cap­tain Dane van Niek­erk has been in sub­lime form with bat, ball and in her lead­er­ship at the World Cup. Loos, Van Niek­erk is in­stead quicker through the air, which de­ceives the bat­ters.

Three of her dis­missals yes­ter­day were due to Sri Lanka’s bat­ters at­tempt­ing the sweep shot, and in­stead only get­ting top-edges to be caught on the leg-side.

“Yeah, look, my bowl­ing and bat­ting, both are work­ing, so I’m not go­ing to com­plain. Our team’s been per­form­ing re­ally well. Ev­ery game has been a team ef­fort. My open­ing bowlers are set­ting up our games. That I’m here is be­cause of them and the in­di­vid­ual per­for­mance the oth­ers have been putting up,” Van Niek­erk said.

“Com­ing into the World Cup I hadn’t bowled as much as I had to. I was a bit weary. I wasn’t sure how it was go­ing to come out. At the mo­ment though, it’s go­ing re­ally well and I’ll take it. Hope­fully, I can con­trib­ute to the team in the next few games.”

South Africa’s cam­paign, was all de­pen­dent on Van Niek­erk.

The seam­ers once again per­formed their du­ties ably with Shab­nim Is­mail strik­ing at the top and back end of the in­nings to fin­ish with 3/14, while Kapp, of course, claimed the big wicket of Ata­p­attu.

There were also wick­ets for Masabata Klaas, who came into the side for the first time for left-armer Mose­line Daniels, and fel­low leg­gie Sune Luus.

The bat­ting unit also showed it is not de­pen­dent on pow­er­house opener Lizelle Lee to haul in to­tals af­ter the right-han­der suf­fered her first fail­ure of the tour­na­ment.

Even the loss of the ex­pe­ri­enced Tr­isha Chetty could not de­rail the run-chase with Laura Wolvaardt (48 not out) and Mignon du Preez (38 not out) com­bin­ing el­e­gantly for an un­bro­ken 78-run part­ner­ship to book the Proteas’ semi-fi­nals spot.

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