Inconsistent Proteas women face toughest T20 World Cup test yet against defending champions Australia

Inconsistent Proteas women face toughest T20 World Cup test yet against defending champions Australia
Chloe Tryon of South Africa during the ICC Women's T20 World Cup match between South Africa and New Zealand at Boland Park on 13 February, 2023 in Paarl, South Africa. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

On Saturday, Proteas women’s squad comes up against an Australian outfit which is a paradigm of consistency. The South Africans will have to dig deep in order to win and keep their hopes of reaching the knockouts largely in their hands.  

Two teams at opposite ends of the spectrum. Australia — five-time T20 World Cup winners who are chasing their third in a row and sixth overall. South Africa, chasing a maiden World Cup final and as a consequence, their first-ever World Cup gold medal.

Australia, who just thumped Sri Lanka by 10 wickets on Thursday, faces a South African side that slumped to a shock defeat at the hands of the Sri Lankans during the curtain-raising World Cup match in Cape Town.

The Aussies also have one foot in the semifinals after three ruthless performances, which also include an eight-wicket triumph over Bangladesh and a 97-run victory over neighbours New Zealand. Success over South Africa on Saturday in Gqeberha will rubber-stamp their safe passage through to the knockouts.

By contrast, the Proteas cannot afford to lose. Or else their destiny to the semifinals will cease to be in their hands — with one game to play after their tussle with the defending champions in the Eastern Cape.

One of the leaders of Hilton Moreeng’s team, Marizanne Kapp is aware of just how important and challenging the match against an Australian team that hardly loses will be. The superstars from Down Under have lost just two T20 matches since March 2021.

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“It’s an extremely important game for us. Unfortunately, we slipped up in that first game against Sri Lanka, which we are disappointed about. But now we know what we have to do,” said Kapp, who was born in Gqeberha, and as such the clash will be a homecoming for her.

“It’s always tough playing against Australia and this is no different. They will be playing their third match here [in Gqeberha], and our first one here will be against them. We know that it will be tough. If we keep on believing and every single player who walks onto that field gives their 150%, we can’t ask for anything more,” added Kapp.

The batting woes of Moreeng’s charges have persisted in the tournament — as highlighted in that shocker against Sri Lanka.

Even during their last match — a 65-run win versus New Zealand, the batting was not at its best. Something Kapp was open to admitting as well.

“The biggest thing for us is partnerships within our game, whether that is bowling or batting. That is the thing we have been lacking, especially when it comes to the batting department,” shared Kapp.

“The previous game was by no means our best game. But we seem to improve as we go along, that’s the most important thing — that we keep improving.”

To upset the Australians — who hardly put a foot wrong and previously danced deftly past the South Africans in the last four (on the way to winning this trophy in 2020) — Kapp and her teammates will have to be at their optimum best.

Nonkululeko Mlaba, Proteas women

Nonkululeko Mlaba of South Africa during the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at Newlands Cricket Ground on 10 February, 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

They will have to excel in all departments — including batting, bowling and fielding. Then pray that Shelley Nitschke’s formidable side has something of an off day.  

Australian opening batter Alyssa Healy says they are not going to take the South Africans lightly and hinted that the conditions at Saint George’s Park might favour the Proteas’ sensational seam attack — which consists of quicks such as Kapp, Shabnim Ismail and Ayabonga Khaka.

“We just try to adapt to the conditions we get,” Healy said. “We’ve seen that green seamer lingering out there for Saturday night. So, it should be a good showdown for the quicks.”

The crunch clash is scheduled to commence at 7pm. DM


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