Dané van Niekerk. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN - South Africa captain Dané van Niekerk has called on the senior players in her team to step up if the Proteas are to have a successful ICC Women’s World Cup campaign.

Although Van Niekerk’s side eventually crossed the line by three wickets against Pakistan in Sunday’s opener at Grace Road, there is no doubt there were admittedly sweaty palms in the dressingroom when the Proteas lost seven wickets for 64 runs in pursuit of Pakistan’s 204/8.

Openers Laura Wolvaardt and Lizelle Lee had appeared to set up the game perfectly for the middle-order with a century opening stand, only to see matters unravel spectacularly.

Van Niekerk and fellow experienced players like Marizanne Kapp, formed part of the malaise and the skipper knows her team needs to cope with the pressure much better when they face a strong New Zealand outfit in Derby on Wednesday.

The White Ferns eased to a comfortable nine-wicket victory over Sri Lanka, also in Derby, in their tournament opener.

“Credit to Pakistan, they bowled really well. They brought the game back,” Van Niekerk said. “The platform we had, you would think as a bowling team they are dead and buried and you want to win a game convincingly. They came back stronger and all credit to them.

“There is no excuse for what happened in the middle order, especially considering the fact there were just seniors who were a part of that. We should know better and hopefully we will rectify it in the games to come.”

Better communication when running between the wickets is definitely a good place to start with the Proteas women’s team replicating the chaos their male counterparts inflicted upon themselves just a fortnight ago at the ICC Champions Trophy when they also manufactured three needless run outs.

“It’s really straight forward running between the wickets, it’s a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

“No run is worth a wicket - we know that. It’s basics and we lost track of that,” Van Niekerk explained.

For all the chaos that enveloped during the latter part of South Africa’s innings, it does though seem the Proteas have discovered a gem at the top of the order.

Opening batter Wolvaardt is only 18-years-old and seems set for a long and distinguished career.

The Parklands College matriculant is already South Africa’s youngest ever centurion and her solid technique, with a penchant for getting on the front foot to drive through the covers and square of the wicket, suggests she could be one of the stars of this Women’s World Cup.

“She’s amazing. She’s 18, but she has the head of a 30-year- old. She just wants to bat and her youth comes through when she bats so freely,” enthused Van Niekerk.

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Cape Times

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