CAPE TOWN - Ayabonga Khaka certainly enjoys milestones. Last year on her 25th birthday, the right-arm seamer delivered a fine spell in the World Cup semi-final in Bristol.
It wasn’t enough to take the Proteas home on the day, but Khaka certainly showed off her class.
On Wednesday, on her 50th appearance for the national team, she produced yet another sparkling performance to drive the Proteas to an unassailable 3-0 series lead in Kimberley, handing Dane van Niekerk’s team a series victory over Bangladesh with still two matches to play.
Khaka claimed 3/16 to dismiss the visitors for just 71 - the tourists second consecutive total under 100. It follows her 3/13 on Sunday in Potchefstroom, which propels the opening bowler to the summit of the series’ wicket-takers list.
The Proteas easily chased down the below-par total with nine wickets to spare, courtesy of 55-ball 44 from opener Lizelle Lee.
“I think for me personally I am just working on my basics,” Khaka said.
“I saw the wicket was different to the Potch one. I needed to hit the wicket a little harder, at Potch I was a little bit fuller. It has been a long road for me, and I happy that I could get my 50 (caps). I played my first one against Bangladesh.
“It was nice to play my 50th in my own backyard. I am getting my confidence day-by-day. I struggled in the last series. I’m just telling myself to get my basics right.”
The home side reduced Bangladesh to 6/4 within the first four overs, courtesy of double strikes by Khaka and her new-ball partner Marizanne Kapp (2/14).
And although Nigar Sultana, who occupied the crease for 122 minutes to make an unbeaten 97-ball 33, battled valiantly for the tourists, the Proteas did not allow the game to drift.
They maintained the pressure with Masabata Klaas (1/7), Raisibe Ntozakhe (1/10), Chloe Tryon (1/12) and debutant Zintle Mali (1/6) all chipping in with a wicket apiece, as they rounded off a superb performance in the field that included two fine run outs.
Lee ensured there were no hiccups in the run-chase either, despite the early loss of University of Western Cape star Andries Steyn for 12.
Veteran wicket-keeper Trisha Chetty (15*) and Lee proceeded to finish the game with more than 35 overs to spare.
“I think it is the first time that everyone contributed so well.
“It is always the bowlers, and often the batters have let us down. But is nice to see the batters also doing well. The mood in the camp is really high.
“It is definitely good for us, knowing what we can do and can’t do. The series is not over yet. We want to go 5-0 up!” Lee said.