Luus and Wolvaardt lead Proteas fightback in Test

Laura Wolvaardt was on her way to a century by the close of play on day three of the Proteas Test against India on Sunday. | BackpagePix

Laura Wolvaardt was on her way to a century by the close of play on day three of the Proteas Test against India on Sunday. | BackpagePix

Published Jun 30, 2024



The Proteas Women showed their mettle, fighting back from the cusp of a huge defeat against India in their one-off Test match at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai yesterday.

The visitors showed great huge application and character to calmly navigate a testing day three dominated by India’s spin bowlers.

A crucial record-breaking 190-run partnership between captain Laura Wolvaardt (93 not out) and Sune Luus (109) propelled South Africa from 16-1 to 232-2 at the close of play, needing a further 105 runs to avoid an innings defeat after India enforced the follow on.

The Proteas came into the day 367 runs behind India’s first innings total of 603-6 declared, with six wickets in hand. Sne Rana picked up 8-77 as the visitors lost six wickets in 8.4 overs, adding only 30 runs to their overnight score of 236-4.

Anneke Bosch and Wolvaardt opened the batting for the second day in a row needing to reduce the huge deficit. The Proteas were in early trouble when Bosch played back to a Deepti Sharma straight delivery that kept low and she was trapped lbw for 9.

Luus joined her captain in the middle and the pair complemented each other well, finding a good balance between defence and attack with Wolvaardt playing second fiddle on their way to a potential match-saving partnership.

Having struggled for form coming into the tour, Luus scored her maiden Test century, only the fifth South African women’s batter to do so.

The 28-year-old backed up her first innings score of 65 with an even better knock under immense pressure as the wicket continued to offer a lot to the Indian spin attack. Luus’ impressive knock was not only technically sound, but more impressive was her clarity outside the off stump, rotation of the strike and the willingness to punish anything in her hitting zone.

Speaking of Luus after the day’s play, Proteas batting coach Baakier Abrahams said the mindset was important in playing Indian conditions well.

“Mentally, it was always going to be tough, you are battling the elements in terms of the heat, conditions and the pitch. There were some signs we showed of resilience when we were under pressure, and those are things we want to use to build on going forward.

“I enjoyed the level of control and confidence she (Luus) showed. If they got close to her she was able to hit over the top and if they bowled good areas, she was strong in defence.

“I think that’s the language we are using: strong in attack and strong in defence. However they see it from an individual point of view, they adopted.

“From an emotional point of view, it was down to a lot of hard work. The one conversation we had was that she had a score in the first innings, but it was not a match-defining score and it’s always going to be about backing one performance (up) with another one.”

Needing a breakthrough, India’s skipper got the big wicket of Luus, who was bowled attempting to play a cut shot.

India missed out on the big scalp of Marizanne Kapp (15 not out) late in the day. Deepti Sharma dropped the 34-year-old first off Rana’s bowling, then off her own bowling. Wolvaardt and Kapp took their partnership to 26 at the close, with Wolvaardt seven runs short of what would also be her maiden ton in the format.