JOHANNESBURG - That the South African Women's team’s dominance over Bangladesh is underpinned by outstanding bowling shouldn’t be a surprise to those who’ve watched the team in the last few years.
Dane van Niekerk has rated her attack as the best in the world since she took over as captain in 2016 and the bowlers very nearly pulled the team into the World Cup final last year.
If anything, the bowling unit appears to have just got better. The Bangladeshis have been bowled out in the first three matches of the five-match ODI series with the Proteas, failing to breach 100 in games two and three.
There is naturally a temptation to highlight the shortcomings of the opposition in such circumstances and certainly the Bangladeshis appear to have struggled particularly against the home team’s pace bowlers. But as Ayabonga Khaka, the leading wicket-taker in the series heading into the fourth game in Kimberley today explained, it is South Africa’s precision that needs to be appreciated.
“We are doing the things we set out to do correctly. Regardless of who we play we have to ensure we tick all our boxes, and we’ve done that in all three games,” said Khaka.
The 25-year-old picked up 3/26 in 6.5 overs in Wednesday’s series deciding win in Bloemfontein, where Bangladesh were bowled out for just 71. That followed on from being bowled out for 89 in the second match and 164 in the series opener, indicating how the hosts have improved.
“That’s the aim, to get better throughout the series which we’ve done. We’ve always believed we are the best attack in the world. There are so many different parts to our attack, and it’s something we continue to work hard on everyday. We are definitely moving in the right direction,” said Khaka, who’s picked up six wickets through three matches, at an average of 7.16.
The rewards she’s had in the series are the result of hard work following a difficult series against India earlier this year. “I was very disappointed after that Indian series,” said Khaka, who picked up just three wickets at an average of 52.33 as the Proteas lost on home soil 2-1.
“I went home and worked very hard on my skills, just trying to regain control. I have my wrist in a much better position now, staying behind the ball for longer, which has helped a great deal.”
Following the fourth ODI on Friday, the series ends on Monday in Bloemfontein, thereafter the two sides will play three T20 Internationals - an important series as the sides look ahead to the Women’s World T20 in the West Indies in November.
The Proteas will head to England next month where they will play three ODIs against the World Cup holders before playing a triangular T20 series with the English and New Zealand.
“We know that tour will be tougher than what we are playing now,” said Khaka. “England is a big series for us, as is the T20s afterwards to help with the preparation ahead of the World Cup - an event we think we can win. We know we have to improve, but we are looking forward to making those improvements.”
South Africa have won the toss and elected to bat first in the 4th women’s ODI in Kimberley. SA team: C Tryon (capt), L Wolvaardt, L Lee, A Steyn, T Chetty, M du Preez, S Luus, S Ismail, A Khaka, R Ntozakhe, Z Mali. #ProteasWomen #AlwaysRising #SAvBAN pic.twitter.com/9JrJkhGqEY