Dane van Niekerk remains optimistic about the Proteas’ chances against Australia in the final World Cup round-robin clash on Saturday.
The defending champions have made a great start to their title defense, winning five out of six games, with their lone defeat coming against England by three runs.
Van Niekerk says that while the Proteas are somewhat nervous, they are keen to use the clash to build momentum heading into the semi-finals.
‘We all know they are the defending champions and are the number one team in the world, so there are nerves flying about a bit, but we’re both in the semis and we [South Africa] want to give ourselves good momentum going in,’ Van Niekerk said.
The skipper said although South Africa have qualified for their first World Cup semi-final in 17 years, winning four of six games played thus far, the players will keep their feet on the ground.
‘We don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves, but I think we’re peaking at the right time. Everything we’ve worked for these past few years is paying off,’ she commented.
South Africa will be seeking a reversal in fortunes after crashing to a 103-run defeat at the hands of the Aussies in their warm-up match.
‘Our first warm-up against them didn’t go the way we wanted, it was definitely a blip losing the way we did, because we know we are better than that,’ added the all-rounder.
‘In the last series we played against them, two or three games were really close and we tied one, showing that we are closing the gap.
‘In a tournament like this, anything can happen.’
Van Niekerk highlighted the importance of being on top of their game during the middle stages of the Australian innings, given the depth of their batting lineup.
‘They have a long batting order with good batters,’ she continued.
‘We identified that we get through their top order well and pretty quickly, but we fall asleep in the middle overs and that’s an area we’ve worked on and improved on during this tournament.
‘I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and seeing how the girls respond to them.’
Australia have won nine of the last ten clashes against South Africa, with a tie coming in their last series.
Nevertheless, Van Niekerk and her side are out to cause an upset, and if recent form is anything to go by, few would bet against them.
The match at Taunton gets under way from 11:30 SAST.