Dane van Niekerk believes the Proteas Women have momentum on their side heading into their World Cup opener against Pakistan on Sunday.
The Proteas rebounded from a heavy defeat to Australia in their first warm-up clash, to trounce West Indies by six wickets after blowing them away for 63.
‘You always want momentum going into a tournament like this and our win against the West Indies the other day [Thursday] gave us that . Hopefully we can build on from that without underestimating a team like Pakistan,’ Van Niekerk said.
‘They are very skilful and dangerous in tournaments like these. We just want to focus on what we do well and hopefully return with a positive result,’ she added.
Van Niekerk also remarked that the squad was relishing the fact that they are flying under the radar with much of the focus on hosts England and defending champions Australia.
‘We’re coming into this World Cup without the big pressures that most of the other teams have to face. We’re not defending champions like Australia, World T20 holders like West Indies and we don’t have the weight of being the hosting nation, and feeling like the eyes of everyone here are on us,’ commented the Proteas skipper.
Van Niekerk spoke of the excitement within the squad over the fact that all of their matches will be televised on SuperSport in South Africa.
‘In previous years, our families, friends, sponsors and supporters had to watch via the internet, and even then it was following live scores on certain websites. I can’t tell you how much it means to the team that our games will finally play live on TV for everyone to see,’ she said.
The Proteas all-time leading wicket-taker in ODIs also believes that this added exposure will help to take the women’s game to a new level.
‘I strongly believe that this, more than anything else, will grow the profile of the women’s game in South Africa and we’re truly grateful to everyone involved for making this happen for us,’ Van Niekerk said.
The Proteas Women’s opening World Cup clash will begin at 11:30 SAST in Leicester against Pakistan.