The much-anticipated start of the new era in women’s cricket saw the light of day yesterday at the Wanderers Stadium as the Lions women took on Free State women in a 50-Over match.
Scheduled to take place simultaneously down at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town was the Western Province women vs Titans women match but rain had the final say as the encounter was abandoned without a ball bowled.
In Johannesburg however, the sun was shining bright and history makers in the women’s game went about their business.
Having elected to bowl first, the Lions unleashed the duo of Refilwe Moncho and Lehlohonolo Meso to take the new-ball for the hosts.
Moncho, known for her blistering pace in the domestic circuit, struggled to find her lines and lengths upfront, while Meso kept hitting her marks with precision and got the rewards with two important wickets with the new-ball.
Meso’s new-ball spell opened up the Free State batting unit wide open, exposing middle order batters to the new-ball which is never ideal, but Miane Smit and Mignon van der Merwe were up to the task.
The pair combined for a 169-run stand for the fourth wicket, taking Free State from 30/3 to 199 runs before the partnership was broken.
Smit carved a neat 79 off 101, while Van der Merwe muscled her way to an 85-ball 79, propelling the visitors to a decent 247/6 in their allotted 50 overs.
In reply, Nonkululeko Thabethe and wicket-keepter batter Palesa Mapoo were entrusted with the chasing duties, opening the batting for the home side.
The pair looked comfortable in their 47-run stand until Thabethe lost her wicket on 18 off 39, while Mapoo (23 off 57) followed soon after.
An impactful partnership came between Sunette Viljoen-Louw (73 off 61) and Kirstie Thomson (89* off 89) as the pair scored a century stand before Jenna Evans’ cameo (20 off 18) sealed the game for the home side, winning the match by six wickets.
The trip to Johannesburg is not over yet for Free State as they have an opportunity to go back home with a victory in today’s T20 match against the same Lions team.
The T20 fixture gets underway at 10am at the Wanderers Stadium.
Free State Women: 247/6 (Smit 79, Van Der Merwe 79, Thomson 3/30, Meso 2/39)
Lions Women: 253/4 (Thomson 89*, Viljoen-Louw 73, Potgieter 2/54, Smit 1/17)
Lions win by six wickets