The Momentum Proteas qualified for the semi-finals of the ICC Women’s World T20 for the first time with a five-wicket win over New Zealand in Sylhet on Monday. It was also a first-ever win for the South African women over the White Ferns in a World Cup.
In three previous Women’s World Twenty20 tournaments, South Africa had finished bottom of their pool on every occasion, so to progress to the final four is a major step forward for Hilton Moreeng’s charges.
‘The greatest moment’
“This is unquestionably the greatest moment in the history of South African women’s cricket to reach the semi-finals of a major ICC event,” Cricket South Africa President Chris Nenzani said in a statement on Monday.
“It is indeed one of the great moments in the history of women’s sport in our country.
“We are extremely proud of what our team has achieved and I wish them everything of the best for the rest of the tournament.””
Batting first after winning the toss, New Zealand managed only 114 for 8 in their 20 overs, with Sophie Devine’s 40 off 43 deliveries by far their best score. Only three other batswomen made it into doubles figures as the South African bowlers and fielders dominated.
Medium pacer Marizanne Kapp starred with a haul of 3 for 23 in her four overs, while leg spinner Dané van Niekerk snared 2 for 12 in her three overs.
South Africa lost two early wickets in their run chase, falling to 16 for 2, before Van Niekerk and captain Mignon du Preez came together to put on 36 for the third wicket before Van Niekerk fell for 23.
Du Preez and Kapp then added 54 runs for the fourth wicket before Kapp was out for 23 with victory in sight. There was a slight hiccup when Du Preez fell on the same total for a captain’s knock of 51 off 47 balls.
Tension was high as only 14 balls remained, with nine runs required, and two new batswomen at the crease. Chloe Tryon and Shandré Fritz showed few nerves, however, taking the Proteas to victory only four balls later.
‘An incredible job’
“I thought that our bowlers did an incredible job today,” South Africa’s captain Mignon du Preez said after the match.
“Kappie [Marizanne Kapp] and Dané [van Niekerk], as the seniors, led from the front and took matters into their own hands, taking wickets just when we needed them. The rest of our bowling unit, including Suné [Luus], PJ [Sunette Loubser] and Shibby [Shabnim Ismail] were fantastic in keeping the pressure up.
“I am extremely impressed with the dog fight and spirit that the team displayed. We knew that this was a make-or-break game and we put our hearts into it, and I’m just really glad we gave the country something to cheer for today.”
‘I’m peaking at the right time’
Reflecting on her contribution with the bat, Du Preez said: “It’s always great to be able to pitch in and play a big role for the team, just as they need it. As a captain, you want to always do well and today was a particularly important game, so I’m really glad that I’m peaking at the right time.”
The Proteas will face either England or the West Indies in the semi-finals and Du Preez says no matter who her team faces it will be business as usual.
“I think the formula we have been using has worked for us so far and we’re happy to continue with things the way that they are,” she explained.
“We obviously want to be at our very best for the next match and we have a few kinks to work out, but right now, we are just going to regroup and just for tonight, enjoy this epic and historic win,” she concluded.
By: SAinfo reporter and Cricket South Africa