Dane van Niekerk is ranked as the sixth-best all-rounder in the world on the ICC’s rankings, and she once again proved her value to the Proteas Women’s team with an inspired double act to guide them to a seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka.
After winning the toss and electing to have first crack at Sri Lanka with the ball, Van Niekerk played her role with a brilliant display of tight bowling to keep the Sri Lankan batters on the back foot.
She lured No 5 batter Oshadi Ranasinghe into edging behind to Lizelle Lee to reduce Sri Lanka to 48-5, before completing her three overs at a cost of just seven runs (econ 2.33) as she conspired with the dynamic duo of Shabnim Ismail (3-10, econ 2.50) and Marizanne Kapp (1-13, econ 3.25) to restrict Sri Lanka to 99-8 off their 20 overs.
The Proteas lost both openers after just seven balls of their innings, which brought Kapp and Van Niekerk together. The pair added a match-winning 67 runs for the third wicket to take the Proteas to within 26 runs of the Sri Lankans’ target.
Kapp fell leg before to Shashikala Siriwardene after a brilliant 38 off 44 balls (four fours, one six, S/R 86.36) that helped set up the win for her side.
Mignon du Preez (16 off 16 balls, three fours) proved a stabilising presence alongside her captain as the two experienced campaigners shared an unbroken stand of 29 runs off 28 balls to secure victory by seven wickets with nine balls in hand.
Van Niekerk proved her immense value to the team on her return after being forced to sit out a number of games during the lead-up to the tournament owing to injury and poor health. She finished 33 not out off 45 balls (73.33), which included two fours.
Despite Van Niekerk’s all-round heroics, the Player of the Match award went to Ismail for her stunning performance with the ball that rocked the Sri Lankan batters and set the tone for the Proteas to march to victory.
The Proteas’ next match is on Thursday against the tournament hosts, the West Indies Women, at Gros Islet.
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