The Proteas women crashed to a nine-wicket defeat in the third ODI against New Zealand in Kimberley on Thursday.
And with it almost certainly went their chances of automatic qualification for the Women’s World Cup in England next year.
The first three of this seven-match series counted towards the World Cup, in which the top four go through automatically, while the bottom four fight it out with minnow qualifiers. South Africa, now in fifth place with 17 points, have three matches remaining in the ICC series – against Australia, away, next year. Even a 3-0 win will probably not be enough, with England now in fourth with 19 points and six matches remaining.
It was doubly disappointing for new captain Dane van Niekerk, who reached her highest ODI score of 78 while anchoring the innings of 188-9, especially after they had produced a solid performance in beating New Zealand by four wickets on Tuesday.
Unlike that previous match, the top order crumbled, and they were two down for 12 runs within four overs, including Mignon du Preez (1), who had reached 80 last time out. Lizelle Lee battled valiantly and aggressively for 36 off 48 balls (5×4, 1×6), but when she and Lara Goodall fell within two balls, with the score on 55, the Proteas were on the back foot.
Van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp looked to have stabilised the innings with a stand of 56 in 20 overs but it was hard work. Kapp’s 31 ate up 71 balls and included just two fours. When she fell, to the medium pace of Holly Huddleston, with the score on 111, Van Niekerk was on her own. The last five batswomen provided just 21 runs.
Van Niekerk, whose previous best was 55, had seven fours among the 104 balls she faced.
The 29-year-old Huddleston, who ended with 5-25 is, by the way, a native of Springs, Gauteng.
The Proteas resume their series against New Zealand in Paarl on Monday