Proteas are eager to make his­tory

The Mercury - - SPORT -

THE PROTEAS women’s team have played some big matches in their his­tory. A World T20 semi­fi­nal in the steam­ing me­trop­o­lis of Dhaka a few years back and there have also been a cou­ple of World Cup semi-fi­nals in In­dia (2000) and Bris­tol (2017).

To­day in Can­ter­bury, the stakes are ap­pre­cia­bly dif­fer­ent though in the Proteas’ most sig­nif­i­cant match since last year’s World Cup. Dane van Niek­erk’s team have a chance to create his­tory by be­com­ing the first SA women’s team to win an ODI series in Eng­land.

The Proteas have the arse­nal to tear up the record books. The bowl­ing unit, par­tic­u­larly the pace trio of Shab­nim Is­mail, Marizanne Kapp and Ayabonga Khaka, are among the most feared in the world game. They are also ex­pe­ri­enced enough to have learnt from their Brighton faults, and will be eager to come back and prove their class.

The leg-spin – such a potent weapon at last year’s World Cup in sim­i­lar con­di­tions – of Van Niek­erk and Sune Luus has been un­der-utilised dur­ing the series thus far and it may now just be the right time to un­leash their wizardry.

Equally, SA’s bat­ting is vastly im­proved. Led by the pow­er­ful Lizelle Lee up­front and the new dy­namism of Van Niek­erk and Chloe Tryon in the mid­dle-order, SA look a much more bal­anced out­fit. Big matches are for big play­ers too, and Laura Wolvaardt can cer­tainly be classed as the lat­ter. After a quiet series thus far, the teenager from Park­lands may just ex­plode into ac­tion at Can­ter­bury.

The only chal­lenge that re­mains is whether this group of play­ers can han­dle the pres­sure that comes with a “must-win” match, know­ing the greater re­wards at stake.

“I think we are. Look­ing back a few years ago, you wouldn’t see the team bat the way they are now. I have never seen so much con­fi­dence. We are here to play. We have noth­ing to lose. We have a spe­cial bunch of girls. We want to win the series. We must just go out there and play,” said all-rounder Try­ron.

“I feel this team is play­ing fear­less cricket. It is just growth of the women’s cricket in the coun­try, the girls are grow­ing.”

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