South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk put in an outstanding all-round performance to help her side secure a narrow seven run win over Sri Lanka in the ICC Women’s Championship.
Rain delayed the start of the contest and reduced the game to a 48 overs a side affair. Sri Lanka won the toss and inserted the South Africans to bat and got off to the perfect start as Laura Wolvaardt was dismissed for a golden duck in the second over. Although still a teenager, Wolvaardt has a mightily impressive average of 45.77 from 38 ODIs – her wicket was a big one. Trying to get away to a quick start, Wolvaardt cut an Udeshika Prabodhani delivery straight to Inoka Ranaweera at gully.
The hits just keep coming for #DaneVanNiekerk. Congratulations to our skipper on her Player of the Match award for her 102 (117 balls, 5x4s, 1x6) and 10-1-2-26. What a performance! Take a bow, you beauty! 🇿🇦🔥🏏👏👏😘💃 pic.twitter.com/j2Ak6nFFrA— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) February 11, 2019
Prabodhani continued struck soon after, bowling Lara Goodhall for 12. South Africa were 29/2 in the 10th over and in a spot of bother. In came van Niekerk to join Andrie Steyn at the crease.
Together, over the course of nearly 25 overs, they put on a superb 116 run partnership to put their team into a strong position. Steyn fell for 75 lbw to Ranaweera while van Niekerk pushed on with minimal support – the highest score after van Niekerk and Steyn was Marizanne Kapp’s 13 – to reach her maiden ODI century. She also became the fourth South African woman to pass 2,000 runs in the format. In the end South Africa ended their innings on 225/7 from their 48 overs. A decent score, but with stronger lower-order support it could have been more.
Sri Lanka got their chase off to somewhat of a flier. They lost their first wicket, that of Anushka Sanjeewani, in the 11th over with the score already on 57. Ahead of the required rate with plenty of wickets in hand, Sri Lanka would have been content with their start as captain and key batter Chamari Athapaththu came to the crease.
Then, in a crucial passage of play, van Niekerk dried up the runs with her leg-spin before bowling her opposite number. She finished with outstanding figures of 2/26 from her 10 overs to go with her hundred earlier in the day.
From then on, despite a 47 from Prasadani Weerakkody and 49 from Shashikala Siriwardene, wickets feel at regular intervals taking away any kind of momentum from the Sri Lankan chase. The run-outs of Oshadi Ranasinghe and Prabodhani in the 44thover didn’t help Sri Lanka’s cause as they eventually ended up seven runs short of their target.
Ultimately, it was van Nierkerk’s all-round display that tipped the contest in South Africa’s favour. Though the game ended in defeat for Sri Lanka, there were still positives for them to take from the encounter.
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