An inspired bowling performance by their world-class attack powered the Proteas Women to a seven-wicket victory in their Women’s World T20 opener against the Sri Lanka Women, writes SIMON LEWIS.
Inspired by an outstanding bowling display by their experienced trio of Shabnim Ismail (3-10, econ 2.50), skipper Dane van Niekerk (1-7, econ 2.33) and Marizanne Kapp (1-13, econ 3.25), Sri Lanka struggled to 99-8 off their 20 overs.
Among the Sri Lankan batters, only Shashikala Siriwardene (21 off 27 balls, two fours, one six), Dilani Manodara (20 off 12, four fours) and Nilakshi de Silva (10 off 16) managed to make it into double figures.
After the early loss of openers Lizelle Lee (one) and Laura Wolvaardt (four) off consecutive balls left the Proteas on 6-2, Kapp and Van Niekerk took the bull by the horns and added a match-winning 67 runs for the third wicket to put the Proteas within 26 runs of the Sri Lankans’ target.
Kapp fell leg before to 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 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.
Du Preez brought up the win with a lofted four over extra cover to signal the perfect start to the Women’s World T20 campaign for the Proteas Women.
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.
England defeat Bangladesh with ease
In the earlier match, the England Women made short work of the Bangladesh Women to win by seven wickets with 39 balls in hand after a rain delay in the England innings reduced their overs thanks to Duckworth and Lewis.
England restricted Bangladesh to 76-9 off their 20 overs, with Ayasha Rahman top-scoring with more than half of her side’s runs (39 runs off 52 balls, two fours, three sixes).
The England bowlers were all exceptionally frugal with the ball, with Kirstie Gordon (3-16, econ 4.00) and Natalie Sciver (1-7, econ 2.33) the best of a bright bunch.
Amy Jones (28 not out off 24 balls, two fours, S/R 116.66) and Sciver (23 of 17, four fours, S/R 135.29) saw their side comfortably through to their reduced victory target of 64-3 in under 10 overs.
Salma Khatun enjoyed some reward in defeat, taking 2-17 off her three overs (econ 5.66), but the Player of the Match honours went to Gordon for her superb bowling display in the Bangladesh innings.
Photo: Matthew Lewis-IDI/IDI via Getty Images