After clinching the three-match One-Day International series with a game to spare on Thursday, the Proteas women are aiming to secure a clean sweep when they play Sri Lanka in the third and last match in Potchefstroom on Sunday.
The home team have won all five matches played in the tour so far, starting with a T20 international series at the start of the month. Opening batter Laura Wolvaardt is pleased with the side’s success and is optimistic of their chances ahead of the final fixture, but cautions against arrogance when taking on their feisty opponents.
‘I think (the series win) will put a lot of girls at ease,’ said Wolvaardt. ‘It’s never nice going into the last game knowing that you still need to try and win the series, it’s always good to have it won before then. But we’re definitely not taking that last game lightly, we still need the points for the ICC Women’s Championship, and they are vital points for us to move up that log a bit. We’re definitely looking to whitewash this series.
‘I think confidence is huge in any team, but we need to be careful going into this last game that it’s not arrogance. We still have a lot of work to do in this last game, and we need to still work hard and get those points. Playing against subcontinent teams, you don’t generally expect them to bring the game to you. It’s been important for us coming into this series to not think that we’re going to win it easily.’
Wolvaardt believes a lot of their success is due to the amount of work the side has put into their mental fitness and change of mindset to complement their physical efforts.
‘I think it’s been more mental than anything else and just backing our skills, and really believing in what we can do to just stay calm in those moments. We’ve been having team sessions where we worked on the mental side of the game, us as a team and how we can work better as a unit.
‘I think a lot of it has a lot to do with our senior players, they’ve been in these situations so many times and have been able to identify when the match is turning in our favour, and we’ve been able to act quickly and accordingly,’ she added.
On what the team would like to improve ahead of their last match, the 20-year-old from Cape Town said that in terms of their batting, the Proteas ‘thought we had a really good start and a really good finish, but there was a period in the middle section of the game where we could have rotated (the strike) a little better, especially when their spinners came on. I think we let them settle a little too easily, instead of taking the game to them.
‘I felt we improved our fielding a lot from the game before, that’s something we’re always working on – getting those run-outs and taking our catches. We had three run-outs in the last game and all of them came at crucial times, and were big wickets for us.’
Wolvaardt, who scored 64 runs from 69 deliveries in their series-winning match, said she was relieved to have bounced back from her first career golden duck in the first ODI.
‘I think it was my first, first-baller of my career, so it sucked a little. It’s never great going out on the first ball, especially because I didn’t think it was necessarily a great ball that got me out, I think I kinda played a really stupid shot,’ she said with a wry smile. ‘The next game I really had to focus and forgot about everything and the last innings, and just focused on watching the ball. So in the last game I was really happy with my strike rate, I think it was the fastest my strike has been (to 50 runs) so that was a bit of a personal victory for me.
‘It’s just nice, because I’ve been really working on my options and working on my T20 game as well, so it was nice to see that correspond with my ODI batting. We’ve spoken about how it gets a lot easier the longer you bat here. As a batting unit we are looking to score hundreds, we’re looking to score big, we need to dig deep and find ways to convert better.’
Wolvaardt hopes that South Africa can win Sunday’s match just for the confidence boost that it will give the team for the year ahead. She believes that an achievement of this nature could be the catalyst her side needs going into a busy 12 months.
‘That would be huge for us. It’s been a while since we’ve beaten a side in the top eight (teams in the world) with back-to-back whitewashes. Just knowing that and having that under the belt will be good for us going forward, especially confidence-wise. Sri Lanka are a really good unit and have improved with every match we’ve played, so that would be a really good achievement for us,’ she concluded.
The match will start at 10am at Senwes Park Cricket Stadium and entrance is free of charge.
South Africa women’s ODI series squad
Dané van Niekerk (captain, Eastern Province)
Laura Wolvaardt (Western Province)
Mignon du Preez (Northerns)
Lara Goodall (Western Province)
Shabnim Ismail (Gauteng)
Marizanne Kapp (Eastern Province)
Saarah Smith (Western Province)
Tumi Sekhukhune (North West)
Suné Luus (Northerns)
Faye Tunnicliffe (wicketkeeper, Boland)
Masabata Klaas (North West)
Andrie Steyn (Western Province)
Zintle Mali (Border)
Nadine de Klerk (Northerns)
Photo: Gallo Images