CAPE TOWN - THE Proteas’ Women’s team’s quest to win their first series in the Caribbean began on a positive note at the Coolidge Cricket Ground on Tuesday evening with Dane van Niekerk’s team cruising to an eight-wicket victory over the West Indies.
A disciplined bowling performance restricted the Windies to just 154, with seamer Ayabonga Khaka setting the tone upfront with a miserly 2/17 from her seven overs. Captain Van Niekerk and Tumi Sekhukhune also chipped in with two wickets each with figures of 2/23 and 2/32 respectively.
The total proved to be well below par with South Africa’s opening pair Lizelle Lee (91 not out) and Laura Wolvaardt (36) showing just what a good pitch it really was with an 88-run opening stand that set the visitors on their way.
Although Wolvaardt would have been disappointed with her dismissal, attempting a loose cover drive that allowed Anisa Mohammed’s off-spinner to creep through the gate, she was the perfect foil for Lee upfront.
The powerful Proteas opener had been in splendid form in the preceding T20I Series, where Lee was named Player of the Series, and maintained that momentum in the opening ODI.
Content to be patient in keeping the good ball out, but alert to any opportunity to score when a bad ball is delivered, Lee struck 10 fours and a six en route to her 91, which marked her 21st ODI half-century. As customary, she was strong straight down the ground with her punch drives past the bowler, while equally punishing anything wayward down the leg side.
Although the visitors’ chase suffered a mini- speedbump when Wolvaardt and Sune Luus (0) were dismissed within nine balls of each other, South Africa remained on course for victory when Van Niekerk joined Lee at the crease.
The experienced duo shared unbeaten 68-run stand for the third wicket which comfortably took the Proteas home with 11 overs to spare.
West Indies 153 all out (Knight 39, Van Niekerk 2/23, Khaka 2/17)
South Africa 157/2 (Lee 91*, Wolvaardt 36, Joseph 1/26)
West Indies win by eight wickets