A stunning bowling display by an inexperienced Proteas Women side against the West Indies Women wasn’t enough to prevent a 17-run loss in the opening T20I in Bridgetown.
Eager to offer experience to the younger members of the touring squad, the Proteas gave T20I caps to four players, 21-year-old Robyn Searle, as well as a trio of 19-year-olds – Faye Tunnicliffe, Saarah Smith and Tumi Sekhukhune, the latter having made her ODI debut against the world champions a week ago.
Playing in her 50th T20I, Lizelle Lee took the captain’s armband as star all-rounder Dane van Niekerk was rested. The West Indies would have hoped to cash in on Van Niekerk’s absence from the attack – along with the presence of two debutant bowlers – but they were in for a shock.
The Proteas’ new talent shone brightly alongside the experienced campaigners in the attack, keeping a tight rein on the West Indies batters to restrict them to a modest 124-6 off their 20 overs. It was a brilliant bowling display from the entire Proteas attack, with two of the debutants producing excellent spells of bowling.
Smith picked up 2-17 (econ 5.66) with her right-arm offbreaks, while Sekhukhune (who impressed during the ODI series) was exceptional, restricting the West Indies batters to just three runs an over off her bowling. Sekhukhune’s figures of 4-0-12-1 – with 15 dot balls and just one boundary conceded – marked another brilliant debut for the young woman, following her figures of 2-28 on her ODI debut.
The youngsters were back up by Zintle Mali, who picked up 2-24 (econ 8.00), and Marizanne Kapp (1-25, econ 6.25).
Natasha McLean top-scored for the West Indies with 38 off 41 balls (four fours), followed by Deandra Dottin with 22 off 19 (three fours).
Merissa Aguilleira (14 not out) and Kycia Knight (14 not out) added a vital 26 in the last three overs to lift the West Indies to 124-6 off their 20 overs and give themselves a defendable total.
Lee fell again in the opening over, followed in the fourth over by Laura Wolvaardt for eight off 14 balls. Debutant Searle batted well until being run out for 14 off 30 balls, and with Mignon du Preez falling for 13 off 12 balls the Proteas found themselves staring down the barrel on 49-4 at the halfway mark of the innings.
The middle order rose to the challenge, Chloe Tryon scoring 23 off 16 balls and debutant Tunnicliffe weighing in with 14 off 29 balls. Kapp hit out powerfully at the end before falling in the final over for 30 off 22 balls as the Proteas ended on 107-7 to lose the opening T20I by 17 runs against a relieved West Indies side.
While it would have been disappointing for the Proteas batters to once again fail to back up the great work of their bowlers, it should fill the team with confidence that they have the firepower to win matches. When the batters start to fire again, this side will be serious challengers for the T20I title in November.
2nd T20I – Brian Lara Cricket Academy – Friday, 28 September
3rd T20I – Brian Lara Cricket Academy – Sunday, 30 September
4th T20I – Brian Lara Cricket Academy – Wednesday, 3 October
5th T20I – Brian Lara Cricket Academy – Saturday, 6 October
Photo: Cricket South Africa (Instagram)