CAPE TOWN – Laura Wolvaardt says she's having "a lot of fun" in her new role at No 4 in the Proteas Women's team's T20 batting line-up.
The stylish right-hander, who opens the batting for the Proteas in the longer ODI format, was converted to a middle-order role at last year's T20 World Cup in Australia. She adapted splendidly and was the only South African selected for the T20 World XI at the conclusion of the tournament.
However, due to the disruption caused by Covid-19 to the international schedule, Wolvaardt has not had many opportunities since.
She has, though, taken every chance in the two matches in the West Indies thus far, with her strike-rate during the death overs particularly impressive.
In the first T20I, Wolvaardt clubbed 35 not out off just 21 balls (2x4, 2x6) before performing even better in Thursday's T20I in Antigua.
Arriving at the crease with just 17 balls left of the innings, Wolvaardt immediately got stuck into her work. Although not renowned for her power game, and more accustomed to classical stroke-making, she used just nine balls to smoke another blitzkrieg undefeated 33 at a strike rate of 366.66.
The innings included an incredible four successive sixes off Hayley Matthews' final over to propel South Africa to an imposing 165/3 and ultimately a 50-run victory for the visitors to take a 1-0 lead in the three-game series.
"Number four is still new to me," Wolvaardt said. "So far I am enjoying it. It comes with a lot of freedom at the end, coming in that late in the innings, having to swing and score a lot of runs quickly. It's different to what I normally do in the ODI's where I have all day to bat.
"It's been really exciting to mix it up a little and to see what I can do at the end there. It's been a lot of fun."
South Africa's bowling unit were certainly bouyed by Wolvaardt and Lizelle Lee's (75 off 42 balls, 12x4, 1x6) pyrotechnics as they absorbed an early Windies onslaught to restrict the home side to 115/8. All-rounder Marizanne Kapp, who earlier struck 24 batting at No 3, was the visitors' most successful bowler with figures of 3/31. Kapp was well supported by the miserly Ayabonga Khaka (2/8), Nonkuleko Mlaba (2/22) and Masabata Klaas (1/24).
"The bowlers were really impressive. They only scored 115. In a T20 that's a very good bowling performance. Their batters came really hard upfront. For our bowlers to hang in there, and stay calm, and absorb the pressure was really, really good. The bowlers took wickets at crucial times," Wolvaardt said.
"We're looking to win the series outright. I am very happy today that our game puts us in the position to win the series."
The two sides will be back at the same venue on Saturday for the third and final WT20.