Dane van Niekerk could take the Proteas a step closer to the semi-finals if she continues her impressive form against Sri Lanka on Wednesday.
Van Niekerk tops the wicket-charts after four matches of the World Cup, picking up nine wickets at a mind-boggling average of 6.66.
The leg-spinner had a decent enough opening match against Pakistan, in which she took 1-14 in five overs. After the washed-out second outing against New Zealand, it was against the West Indies that the Proteas skipper really made an impact.
The opening bowlers had laid the perfect platform for Van Niekerk after they had West Indies reeling at 16-5. Van Niekerk compounded the Caribbean outfit’s woes by capturing an astonishing 4-0. Van Niekerk’s magical spell lasted just 20 balls before she picked up the final wicket to complete a demolition job, West Indies all out for 48.
Her remarkable figures were record-breaking on two levels. Van Niekerk became the first bowler in either men’s or women’s international cricket to take four wickets without conceding a run. The Proteas skipper also returned the best figures by a captain in Women’s World Cup history.
Watch Van Niekerk’s historic spell (1:23-2:25)
After the euphoria of her record-breaking day, the all-rounder went wicketless as her side lost by 68 runs to England, the bowlers being smashed for 373. Nevertheless, Van Niekerk bounced back in spectacular fashion against an unbeaten India side that were looking to book a semi-final spot.
Van Niekerk was sensational as she dismantled a much-fancied India batting lineup. Her 10 overs were not only fruitful, but economical too, as she blew away the India middle-order to finish with figures of 4-22, and was denied only her third career five-for when Sune Luus grassed a chance in the 39th over.
Van Niekerk will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in the Proteas’ bid to record a fourth win of the campaign and also continue their dominance over Sri Lanka, which has seen them win 10 of the last 15 clashes between the sides.