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Women's Cricket World Cup

Special day for van Niekerk despite loss to India


South Africa Women captain becomes seventh to the double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets in women’s ODIs

Dane van Niekerk has become the seventh to reach a double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets in Women’s One-Day Internationals. The South Africa Women captain reached the milestone against India Women during a Super Six stage game of the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2017 at P Sara Oval in Colombo on Wednesday (February 15). That made her the second after Sana Mir, the Pakistan Women captain, to enter the club during the ongoing tournament. She also became the first South African women to take 100 wickets in ODIs.

The moment came in the first ball of the 33rd over of India’s innings, when Mona Meshram stepped out and tried to go against the turn and was bowled. India still went on to win the game, though.

Mignon du Preez, the former captain, alerted van Niekerk of the milestone.

“I was aware about it quite a while ago, but kind of forgot about it. Mingz reminded me of that when I got the wicket,” said van Niekerk said after South Africa’s 49-run defeat. “Things were not going our way, so the last thing I was wondering about is the 100th wicket. Every game I play for South Africa is really special for me. I am lucky enough to have taken my 100th wicket and lucky to score runs for my country. Hopefully, I can continue to contribute – winning the World Cup is my only aim.”

Van Niekerk finished with impressive figures of 10-2-30-1, and the striking aspect in that performance was the way she came back after conceding ten runs in her first over. She was not scared of pitching the ball up and tempting the batters to go over the top with four fielders on the 30-yard circle on the off side. For the most part in her three spells, she had just two fielders – deep mid-wicket and long leg – at the boundary. She still gave away only two fours.

Dane van Niekerk became the first South Africa Women bowler to reach 100 ODI wickets
Dane van Niekerk became the first South Africa Women bowler to reach 100 ODI wickets

She had a strong grip over Meshram, who struggled to find the gaps despite middling the ball well right from the beginning. Meshram’s wicket was a result of persistent pressure that van Niekerk applied.

“I was bowling to the lefty (Deepti Sharma) in my first over. I thought my line was right, but it skidded on and I was not getting turn. I didn’t hit the seam right and it was three runs (in wides) before my first ball,” she said, explaining what went wrong in her first over. “Obviously the cut could go either way of the fielder. It’s not always easy to come and hit your straps immediately as a leggie. I am just glad I pulled it back. I apologised to the team, and said that the pressure got me there, so let me bring it back with a few maidens and put the pressure back on them.”

She finished her first spell with 5-2-12-0 in the 19th over, and brought herself back in the 29th over when Mithali Raj welcomed her with a boundary. She was unlucky in the last ball of that over when Chloe Tyron dropped Meshram at cover, but did not have to wait long to reach to the landmark.

Video cwc19 15 Feb 17
Dane Van Niekerk claims her 100th ODI wicket
South Africa Women's captain Dane Van Niekerk made history by becoming the first South African Woman to reach 100 ODI wickets and she did so with a beautiful leg-break that turned sharply to clip the top of off-stump.

“I thought I was on top of Mona. She looked like she was struggling a bit. So I took myself out of the attack to see what’s going on from outside,” added van Niekerk. “I brought myself back in and thought I’d hit the same lines and lengths. The last time I had bowled her before going off I had thought I could get her.”

The wicket made her only the third bowler, after the West Indian pair of Anisa Mohammed and Stafanie Taylor, to take 100 or more wickets in ODIs since van Niekerk started out in international cricket in March 2009. Except for Ellyse Perry (4.34), all other 15 bowlers with 100 or more wickets in Women’s ODI history have an economy rate of less than four.

Van Niekerk, whose economy is 3.52, was surprised to know of her parsimony. “It’s a funny stat. I am more of an attacking bowler and have never worried about RPO (runs per over). It’s a shock to me. I have always wanted to be an attacking legspinner, more Shane Warne types,” she said. “Rather go for a few more runs and take more wickets than go for less and take few wickets. I am never happy with one.”

Van Niekerk, who took over ODI captaincy in October last year, is just 23 years old and will continue to get stronger on the job, starting with her next test – against Sri Lanka Women at the same venue on February 17.

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