Laura Wolvaardt and Mignon du Preez struck half-centuries as the Proteas Women posted 218-6 in their World Cup semi-final clash against England.
The runs are on the board and the Proteas will have the belief that they have enough to defend, but wickets at key stages, including two dreaded run-outs, prevented what could have been a better total.
With just one win from their last 18 matches against the English, including their 68-run defeat to them a fortnight ago, made the hosts overwhelming favourites going into this clash. But, spurred on by the underdog tag after reaching their first World Cup semi-final for 17 years, Laura Wolvaardt gave them a steady platform to build on.
Winning the toss and choosing to bat first, given that the English beat them on the same ground in that fashion, it would be the hosts to strike first, as Lizelle Lee played across a straight one from Anya Shrubsole (1-33) which clattered Lee’s stumps for her to trudge back for seven.
Trisha Chetty, in need of a decent knock with a high score of 37 going into this match, built up an encouraging 27-run stand with Wolvaardt, and it took a superb piece of work from Sarah Taylor behind the stumps to see her off. Chetty chased a wide one off Natalie Sciver (1-25), and was caught out of her crease for a brief second, within which Taylor pounced. Chetty was stumped for 15.
That then brought Du Preez to the crease, who had made decent starts in every innings she’d played in the tournament up to this point without pushing on. She saved it for the knockout round to produce the goods. It was slow and steady from Du Preez and Wolvaardt, but the 77-run stand from 19.4 overs pulled them away from any potential danger, as 18-year-old Wolvaardt notched up her third half-century of the tournament, off 80 balls.
That stand soon came to an end as Wolvaardt (66) was bowled by England captain Heather Knight (1-9), which allowed the same old issues to creep in for the South Africans. Marizanne Kapp was the first of two run outs in an entertaining over from Knight. Kapp avoided a golden duck thanks to a sitter dropped from Knight, but two balls later Du Preez darted off for a quick single, leaving Kapp just short of her line to perish for one.
Dane van Niekerk got slightly bogged down at first but a couple of boundaries and a huge straight six relieved the pressure. Just as she found her rhythm, Du Preez left her teammate stranded again. The run wasn’t on as the fielder at mid-wicket collected and threw back to the bowler, with Du Preez sending Van Niekerk back. The captain was run out for 27.
Then the most crucial wicket of them all as Chloe Tryon, known for turning good totals into great ones with her power hitting, hit one straight back to Jenny Gunn to depart for one.
That didn’t stop Du Preez from pushing on, who batted brilliantly throughout, bringing up a 12th ODI half-century before striking up a vital 48-run stand with Sune Luus. Du Preez finished unbeaten on 76 off 95 balls, Luus 21 off 25, as they managed 218-6.
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