Cape Town - Proteas’ Women’s wicket-keeper Sinalo Jafta has admitted that “nerves got in the way” during the team’s tense three-run defeat to Sri Lanka in their ICC T20 Women’s World Cup tournament opener at Newlands on Friday evening.
The home team were the overwhelming favourites heading into the match, but were caught cold before a record crowd for a women’s cricket match in South Africa.
"Nerves got in the way, if we're being honest,” Jafta said. "I will commend Cape Town for coming through. The fans were incredible. As an athlete you live for those nerves. We haven't played in front of such a crowd bar in India.
"We can't run away from the fact that there are going to be pressure situations. It is a World Cup, and in T20 cricket the margin of error is so slim. We're focusing on being present. I think that's what we lacked. We were more focused on the outcome instead of facing the ball."
The build-up to the opening game has been drama-filled for the Proteas after the omission of former captain Dane van Niekerk on fitness grounds.
Van Niekerk was present at Newlands on Friday, but as a commentator instead.
There was hugely emotional moment prior to the start of the game when Van Niekerk embraced her wife and Proteas star all-rounder Marizanne Kapp ahead of the warm-ups.
It would have further enhanced the pressure on the home team, who knew the spotlight would now be further even further them.
Jafta, though, denied that Van Niekerk’s presence at the ground had any impact on their performance.
"As athletes, we're here to do our job," Jafta said. "That's first and foremost, and Marizanne Kapp is probably the most professional person I've ever come across. She knows she has her job at hand whether Dane's here or not. We're all in a team and everyone supports each other."
The Proteas have an opportunity to resurrect their home T20 World Cup campaign when they face New Zealand at Boland Park in Paarl on Monday.