POTCHEFSTROOM – The Proteas women are ready to bounce back after their shock, eight-wicket defeat to Pakistan in the first ICC Women’s Championship (IWC) One-Day International (ODI) on Monday.
The tourists are 1-0 up with vital points still up for grabs towards both teams’ 2021 ICC Women’s World Cup direct qualification campaigns.
Former captain Sana Mir (4/11) led the attack that saw South Africa bundled out for 63 runs in 22.5 overs.
The hosts conceded their first-ever defeat at home to the visitors, while giving them their biggest win by balls remaining (35.2 overs). It also meant the end of their winning streak on home soil, following four back-to-back series clean sweeps against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
South Africa’s coach Hilton Moreeng said while the team are very disappointed in their performance, they have opted to put the match behind them and rather work on turning the series around.
“It was a disappointing start especially after the preparation we had. Everything was planned to the ‘T’, but it turned out to be a day that we had to put behind us very quickly as a team,” he said on the eve of the second encounter in Potchefstroom on Thursday.
“The execution of certain skills wasn’t good, Pakistan played better than us on the day and used the conditions well. It’s a game we’re not proud of especially with it being a home series but we sat down as a team and had our debrief, we know what needs to happen over the next two games, starting with tomorrow’s one. We’re still confident that we can turn it around.
“That’s sport,” the coach continued. “You’re gonna get these kinds of games. The most important thing about sport is how you bounce back. We know that there’s still two more games to play for the series and we need to make sure that we’re in the right mental space, we can’t drag disappointments into the second game and when you look again the series is gone.
“The girls are mature enough to understand that and they know what is required of them. The prep again has been very good and the players are back in a good space. They just need to go out there and execute their plans and keep calm heads in the middle.”
Thursday’s match gives the home side the opportunity to level the series and look towards winning it outright thereafter. With four IWC points still on offer, Moreeng believes that his team is ready to take on their next challenge on a new slate.
“The next two games for us are going to be very crucial. It’s not how you want to start any series but it’s part of the game, these things happen, it’s gonna be about what we make out of it going forward. Tomorrow we’ll definitely see a better team,” he continued.
After their bleak end to 2018 following a substandard performance in the ICC Women’s World T20, South Africa sought the help of Sports Psychologist Eugene Oppelt to help navigate a new way forward for the team. It was a process that both players and team management agreed was much-needed and left everyone pleased with the new journey the team have embarked on.
“It’s one aspect of the game that often goes ignored, in many sports as well,” Moreeng explained.
“The players set such high standards for themselves also, so we needed that resource to come in and help the players strike that balance between what they want to happen out on the field and what actually takes place.
“So far it has been unpacked and refined well. Since bringing in Eugene (Oppelt), we’ve seen a lot of growth and maturity in the players, more importantly the understanding, especially with the youngsters because this environment can be very daunting. We can only grow as a team from here.”
Team vice-captain Chloe Tryon agreed with the coach, saying:
“We’ve really enjoyed having him in the team since before the start of the Sri Lanka series. The girls have been bonding a lot more, we’re speaking a lot and the communication has become so much better. We’re really grateful for what he’s done with the team, the girls are very happy and we hope to continue with him for a very long time.”
Rain interrupted the team’s training session today, but tomorrow’s forecast looks clear. On the importance of turning the series around with a win in Thursday’s fixture and assessing the conditions that might be changed by the weather, Tryon said:
“We were obviously very disappointed with what happened the other day, but we’ve had to put that behind us. The rain is not very ideal, it’s something that we can’t control but everyone is in a good mindset after the last game and is staying positive looking ahead to what we need to do.
“Everyone did their touch ups yesterday (Tuesday) and that’s what we’re looking to do again today, just those small extras that can take us a little further. We’ll take the weather as it comes… The conditions will change a little bit but we’re not too worried about that, I think we can adapt to that.”
Moreeng echoed Tryon’s sentiments.
“There’s not much else we want to say, everyone knows where they are at and what needs to be done. Yes there’s been a bit of rain about and conditions might be affected by it, but the players know what to do, we’ve prepared for every eventuality, it’s just a question of execution. It’s not a 63 all out wicket, it never was. We just need to go out there and apply ourselves,” he concluded.