Arduous challenge for Proteas in T20 World Cup semi final
Zaahier Adams points out five things the Proteas must do to advance to their maiden World Cup final.
Stop Meg Lanning
Almost like a sleeping giant, Australia’s captain has been priming herself for a big performance in today’s semi-final.
Lanning has not been in the richest vein of form in the tournament thus far, with top scores of 41 not out against Sri Lanka before a rapid 21 against New Zealand.
But the Australian skipper has over the years kept her best for the crunch matches, with her T20 World Cup average in knockout games rising to 45, which is 10 runs above her overall career statistics.
Lanning possesses that crucial element, commonly known as “BMT” and will want to lead her team to yet another major final.
Her battle up front with Proteas speedster Shabnim Ismail is potentially crucial to the outcome of this contest.
Handle the spin
South Africa may be breathing a sigh of relief that the world’s best women’s player Elysse Perry has been ruled out of the tournament, but they should not let their guard down just yet.
The Aussies could haul a joker out of their pack with the inclusion of spin-bowling all-rounder Sophie Molineux. The left-arm spinner has yet to play in the tournament, having just recovered from an injury herself, but she could play a pivotal role as Lanning is likely to use Molineux in the PowerPlay.
Both South African openers Lizelle Lee and Dané van Niekerk prefer the ball coming on the bat from the seamers and will need to be cautious against Molineux if they are to get off to a good start.
Take every half-chance
There’s no doubt the sense of the occasion will get to the Proteas and they might just be a bit nervous and edgy at the start.
They will need to settle down very quickly, especially in the field, where every chance Australia offer needs to be gobbled up.
The Proteas’ fielding was excellent against England in the opening game, but there have been a couple of mishaps since, particularly in the next group match against Thailand.
Sloppiness will be fatal to their cause.
Savour the occasion
There are few more daunting tasks than playing the defending champions in their backyard in a World Cup semi-final - even more so if you haven’t ever beaten the opposition.
That’s the task awaiting Van Niekerk’s team at the SCG.
Instead of worrying about all the previous records and expected vociferous support of the home team, the Proteas should enjoy the experience.
It is not often they will have the opportunity in front of an excepted 20 000-plus crowd and that should be a unique experience on its own.
At least Van Niekerk is approaching the game with the right attitude. “It’s a semi-final, anything can happen. We’re going to focus on what we do well and forget about the records,” she said.
If all else fails, pray for rain
Although both Van Niekerk and Chloe Tryon have stated that they want the opportunity to have a crack at the Australians and that rain should not have the final say on proceedings at the SCG, the reality is that the Proteas will advance to Sunday’s final should the semi-final be abandoned.
At the moment the forecast is grim with 15-30mm of rain predicted for today’s semi-final double-header in Sydney.
With no reserve day scheduled for the semi-finals under tournament rules, the group winners progress, which is South Africa in this instance.