Protea women want to make history against Aussies
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Dané van Niekerk sees no better time than the present for South Africa to perform another first at this year’s ICC Women’s T20 World Cup.
They’ve ticked off a T20 World Cup win against England ... now for Australia.
The stakes are as high as they’ve ever been for Van Niekerk’s side, who qualified tomorrow’s semi-finals without losing a group match. As a result, they topped Group B after yesterday’s match against the West Indies at the Sydney Showgrounds was washed out.
Next up, it’s Meg Lanning and her crew of megastars at the storied Sydney Cricket Ground where a win would put South Africa into its first ICC final.
In fact there is a very strong chance that South Africa could qualify for the showpiece final, to be played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday, without a ball being bowled. The weather forecast for Sydney is decidedly unpleasant and if no play is possible South Africa would qualify for the final on account of finishing on top of Group B.
That is not a thought that Van Niekerk or her players were entertaining yesterday however. “We’ve never beaten them,” Van Niekerk said. “We really want to beat them and what better way than in a World Cup semi-final.”
Van Niekerk has played in all four T20 defeats against the Australians, which have all come at different T20 World Cup tournaments stretching back to 2009 in England. “It will be very tough,” said the South African captain. “They have a lot of experience of playing in big games at tournaments, we don’t.”
As for the prospect of rain and the huge gift it could present her team, should they qualify as a result of not playing, Van Niekerk wasn’t keen on that prospect. “Hopefully we can play. It should be a good spectacle for the women’s game.”
Australia will be without the sport’s biggest star, Ellyse Perry, who succumbed to a hamstring injury during her side’s crucial victory over New Zealand on Monday and is out for the remainder of the tournament.
Perry is very much the face of the competition Down Under and has been described by various commentators as the best women’s player ever.
Getting 100 000 people through the gates at the MCG on Sunday to watch the final was built on Australia and Perry playing.
The prospect of that not happening will be a blow for the organisers and the competition.
South Africa has concerns over its big name all-rounder Marizanne Kapp as well. She suffered with heart palpitations and didn’t field during South Africa’s victory against Pakistan. She also missed the match against Thailand a few days before that.
The Proteas’ coach Hilton Moreeng said Kapp would be closely monitored in the days leading up to the semi-final, although yesterday, her teammate Chloe Tryon, said it would be very difficult for anyone to stop the 30 year old from taking to the field.