Unbeaten Proteas women ready for toughest test yet against Aussies at the World Cup
The Proteas women have never beaten Australia in One Day Internationals. When the two heavyweights clash on Tuesday, the South Africans will be out to arrest that streak.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, South Africa will face their toughest test yet at the women’s One Day International (ODI) Cricket World Cup in New Zealand. The Proteas women take on Australia, the only other unbeaten side at the tournament.
They face an Australian outfit that broke the record for the highest successful run-chase in ICC Women’s World Cup history during their last match versus India. The Indians had set the most successful women’s World Cup side an imposing target of 278 for victory, which they successfully chased down, surpassing the record run chase they managed against Sri Lanka in the 2017 edition of the tournament.
More importantly, the Proteas face an Australian side that they have never beaten in ODIs. They face a team that has barrelled past all opponents so far in the 2022 edition.
The South Africans know they have to be almost perfect on the day to edge out the tournament favourites, Proteas’ star opening batter, Laura Wolvaardt admitted to journalists during a virtual pre-game press conference.
“Australia is a world-class side; number one in the world. It’s not a game that we’re going to take lightly at all. We just have to see it as a normal game, just watch the ball and take it one ball at a time. We can’t go out there and play the player,” said the 22-year-old opener.
“We’ve never beaten them in an ODI. So, it’s a great opportunity to do that. But we’ll have to be on top of our game.”
The Proteas are yet to hit top gear in this tournament. However, they still boast a perfect record — four wins from four matches. Prior to the game against hosts New Zealand, head coach Hilton Moreeng said he and his technical team are working on having the team playing to their full potential across all three departments of bowling, batting and fielding.
So far, only the bowling unit has come to the party. The batters, particularly in the top order, have struggled to form any meaningful partnerships. The only exceptions have been Wolvaardt and captain Suné Luus. All-rounder Marizanne Kapp — who has been deadly with ball in hand — has contributed crucial runs lower down the order, as has vice-captain Chloe Tryon.
Against Australia, the batters will have to be on top of their game. This is particularly true for Wolvaardt’s opening partner Lizelle Lee. The destructive opener has so far struggled to find her feet after missing South Africa’s pre-tournament series win over the West Indies due to Covid-19. She also missed the first game of the World Cup due to family commitments.
Wolvaardt says the team is not worried about Lee and knows she will rise to the occasion and be back to her belligerent best in no time.
“Lizelle is a world-class player. I really love batting with her; she takes a lot of pressure off me when we bat together, because she’s such an explosive player upfront. It allows me to bat through the innings and do my own thing,” Wolvaardt told journalists.
“She hasn’t got a big score yet. She’s gone out early twice, and then one was a run-out which was a bit of a miscommunication [between the two of us]. It’s cricket. Those things happen. Just a couple of months ago she was averaging 90. So, none of us are too worried about her. I’m sure she’ll come right when it really matters.”
Her teammates, and particularly Wolvaardt, would love for that to happen against the imposing Aussies, because usually when both openers are at their destructive best, the South Africans can beat any team in the world.
The match will start at 12am (SA time) on Tuesday and will be broadcast on SuperSport. DM