In the end, Sri Lanka had nothing left to give. Their ICC Women’s World Cup campaign has been dismal and South Africa ensured their misery continued in Taunton on Wednesday.
The Proteas hardly erred either with the ball or the bat. It was not so much a ruthless display, but instead clinical and focused. Two points were on offer and Dane van Niekerk’s side collected them without ever having to shift through the gears.
They will know from here on there are only greater challenges that lay ahead – like defending champions Australia on Saturday – and hopefully the semi-finals to look forward to.
Long before South Africa won by eight wickets with 161 balls to spare, having treated Sri Lanka’s target of 101 as a stroll in the park, there was a sense of inevitability about the result. It was not as though Sri Lanka were going through the motions, the South Africans just seemed on a different level to their opponents from the sub-continent.
Even the early loss of their leading run-scorer and talisman Lizelle Lee for a second-ball duck – her first failure of this World Cup – and Trisha Chetty (13 off 18 balls) before the lunch interval could not break South Africa’s stride.
Laura Wolvaardt has shown herself to be an accomplished opening batter at this World Cup, and along with the experienced Mignon du Preez, the stroke-making was precise and authoritive.
Although there was some early swing for the seamers and a little spin for some of the Sri Lankan left-arm slow bowlers, they never looked like being parted. Their unbroken stand of 78 runs in 17.4 overs at a rate of 4.41 ensured South Africa’s overall run-rate lifted to +1.72 – a crucial factor in the jostle for semi-final places.
Wolvaardt, the 18-year-old schoolgirl, fell just two runs short of a deserved half-century, while former skipper Du Preez remained unbeaten on 38.
This was all so vastly different to Sri Lanka’s effort with the bat. South African opening bowler Marizanne Kapp has truly lived up to her World No 1 bowler status at this World Cup and delivered yet another early strike for her team.
With the very first ball of her spell, the right-arm seamer delivered an in-swinging yorker that trapped Sri Lanka’s premier batter Chamari Atappatu in-front of her stumps.
South Africa had thrown the first punch – and just like against India when captain Dane van Niekerk removed her counterpart Mithali Raj with her fast ball – it proved to be the knockout blow.
The remaining Sri Lankan batters could simply not get off the canvas with Van Niekerk rotating her bowlers with aplomb to maintain the pressure.
It yielded the necessary results with Van Niekerk once again helping herself to a four-wicket haul – her third of the competition – which increased the leg-spinner’s overall tally to 13 wickets.
There were also wickets for Masabata Klaas, who came into the side for the first time for left-armer Moseline Daniels, and fellow leggie Sune Luus.
However, it was left to pacer Shabnim Ismail to complete the wreckage, with the opening bowler returning to complete the job with figures of 3/14.