JOHANNESBURG – The Proteas Women's team's accomplished start to the ODI series has put a spring in their step. If they can fashion a second win against West Indies on Friday, they will be one step closer to breaking down yet another barrier this year.
Hilton Moreeng's side have already climbed their Everest when they beat a strong Indian side in their own conditions for the first time earlier this year, but are they are now battling the heat and humidity of the Caribbean for a maiden series win here too.
"The team is in a good very place at the moment but the conditions really are something else. Last night was one of the toughest experiences I've had on the field. The pitches were a bit low, to the point of it rolling. It was extremely hot and humid, so the conditions are very challenging. In the nets you bat for 30 minutes and you want to pass out. But so far the girls have done really well," Proteas opener Lizelle Lee said.
Lee would certainly be a good judge of the conditions, particularly as she has spent easily the most time out in the middle on tour thus far. Following on from her Player of the T20I Series award, the powerful right-hander stroked another undefeated 91 in the first ODI to lead the visitors to a comfortable eight-wicket victory.
The 29-year-old was the Proteas mainstay on the Indian tour too with 378 runs in seven matches, including an unbeaten century and three half-centuries, and seems set to match that return with a further four matches still remaining in the ODI series. She has already accumulated 205 runs at an average of 68.60 across formats.
It this type of consistency that has elevated Lee to the No 2 ranking on the ICC ODI players list – she briefly held the top spot on the Indian tour – and is definitely among the foremost batters in global women's cricket at the moment.
"I have enjoyed my cricket the last few years and you can see by my expression on the field and particularly the 50-over game. It is probably the one I stand out the most in for the past couple of years and I am really looking forward to the next couple of games," Lee said.
"I have realized over the past few years that as soon as try and complicate things I struggle. I am just trying to keep things as simple as possible," she said.
The West Indies are certainly no pushovers. The home team may have lacked intent with the bat in the first ODI as the Proteas bowlers tightened the noose, but they still possess dangerous players like Deandra Dottin that can inspire a fight back.
"The West Indies will definitely look to bounce back. They that sort of nation, they won't go down lying. We just going to have to be prepared and make sure we cover all bases.
"I thought when Dottin came in, she showed that intent and showed how they should have played."