• Wolvaardt, Kapp carry Proteas Women to victory

    Laura Wolvaardt and Marizanne Kapp helped the Proteas claim a commanding seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first women’s ODI on Saturday.

    In a record chase at the Kimberley Oval, Wolvaardt led the way with an unbeaten 110 off 141 balls (six fours) alongside Kapp’s 84-ball 80* (seven fours) as South Africa hunted down Sri Lanka’s total of 229 all out, which featured 51 off 69 runs (nine fours) from Chamari Athapaththu.

    After winning the toss for the first time in 12 attempts and electing to bowl, the Proteas made a strong start as Ayabonga Khaka (3-28) secured an early breakthrough to pick up the wicket of Vishmi Gunaratne (seven) after Masabata Klaas took a composed catch at deep fine leg.

    With the Proteas bowlers hitting their marks early on, Sri Lanka were restricted to 27-1 in the powerplay before captain Athapaththu found her rhythm with the bat to help push the visitors to 62-1 after 15 overs.

    Alongside Hasini Perera (15), Athapaththu anchored the 58-run partnership for the second wicket before Nadine de Klerk (3-23) broke the deadlock to remove Perera – caught by Delmi Tucker – and leave the Sri Lankans 73-2 in the 18th over.

    Despite losing her batting partners, Athapaththu marched on to her 16th half-century in her 100th ODI before the explosive batter became De Klerk’s second victim of the afternoon to depart for 51 to see Sri Lanka 93-3 at the halfway stage of the innings.

    New batters Hansima Karunaratne and Kaveesha Dilhari (42) then went about the rebuild in a measured fashion to propel Sri Lanka to three figures in the 27th over before taking the score to 120-3 with 20 overs remaining.

    With Dilhari leading the charge at the crease, the two Sri Lankan middle-order batters added a crucial half-century stand for the fourth wicket to help bring up the tourist’s 150 in the 35th over.

    Soon after, Khaka picked up the all-important scalp of Karunaratne for 33 off 60 balls with Klaas taking her second catch of the day before Nonkululeko Mlaba (2-40) picked up two wickets in two deliveries to get rid of the dangerous Dilhari and Anushka Sanjeewani (nought) and leave the visitors 178-6 after 39 overs.

    With two new batters at the crease in Nilakshika Silva (36) and Oshadi Ranasinghe (20), the pair added a vital 41 runs for the seventh wicket before Klaas (1-50) secured her solitary wicket of the encounter to end the partnership with Sri Lanka on 214-7 after 47 overs.

    With three overs remaining, the South African bowlers did well to restrict Sri Lanka’s lower-order as Eliz-Mari Marx (1-38), De Klerk and Khaka picked up the final three wickets to wrap up the innings with a ball to spare.

    In reply, the Proteas experienced a stuttering start with the bat as Sri Lanka removed two of the three top-order batters, including the returning Lara Goodall (seven) and Tucker (two), in the powerplay to leave the home side 43-2 after 10 overs.

    In a crucial 59-run, third-wicket stand for South Africa, the pair of Wolvaardt and Suné Luus (21) helped build the innings to take the hosts near the 100-run mark before Luus was clean bowled by Inoka Ranaweera (1-45) to see the Proteas reach 86-3 after 20 overs, still needing 144 runs to win.

    With Kapp joining the in-form Wolvaardt at the crease, the duo combined in devastating fashion with Kapp at the helm with an aggressive display, adding a half-century stand with Wolvaardt reaching another ODI fifty as South Africa advanced to 145-3 after 30 overs.

    Despite a brief stoppage in play due to lightning, the experienced pair continued to dominate at the crease to reach a 100-run partnership as Kapp raised her bat for a 14th career half-century to see South Africa to 188-3 after 40 overs.

    Requiring 42 runs off 10 overs, Wolvaardt soon completed her fifth career hundred before becoming the leading run-scorer for the Proteas in women’s ODI cricket prior to Wolvaardt and Kapp securing the win with 14 balls remaining.

    The third and final ODI will get underway on Wednesday at the JB Marks Oval in Potchefstroom from 2pm.

    Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

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    Simon Borchardt