South Africa’s pacers against India’s spinners, and Sri Lanka’s best slip catcher in focus
Matches on Wednesday, February 15
South Africa v India, P Sara Oval
Sri Lanka v Pakistan, Nondescripts Cricket Club
Bangladesh v Ireland, Colombo Cricket Club
Match in focus: South Africa v India
The Super Six stage of the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2017 in Colombo begins with a match between the two best teams of the competition. India was the Group A topper, while South Africa was first in Group B. Neither team has lost a match in the tournament so far; for one of them, that will change on Wednesday.
South Africa has looked like a strong all-round unit, with every member taking forward the efforts of the teammate that came before them. The team has displayed a ruthlessness in overhauling low totals, making no secret of its intention to chase down anything under than 100 without losing a wicket. Against PNG, it managed that, the openers handing the chase of 77.
It’s biggest strength has been its new-ball attack. Shabnim Ismail has eight wickets in four matches, with two of those match award-winning performances. She has been well supported by the likes of Marizanne Kapp and Ayabonga Khaka, who are expected to be back in the XI after being rested for the last group match.
Lizelle Lee’s contribution at the top of the order in getting the side off to blazing starts is no less significant. India will be aiming to get her out quickly to turn things in its favour, and the team’s excellent spin attack will be integral to those plans.
Unlike Lee, the Indian batters look to play risk free early on, taking their time to settle in. That strategy has paid dividends for the likes of Deepti Sharma, MD Thirushkamini and Devika Vaidya, with Mithali Raj too among the runs. But the team will need a combined rather than individual performances to ward off the South Africa challenge.
India has won five of its ten One-Day Internationals against South Africa Women so far; it has lost four with one no result. The teams met in the warm-up match just before the group stage of the qualifier. South Africa came out ahead in that contest, winning easily by six wickets after bowling India out for 155.
Player in focus: Nipuni Hansika
Nipuni Hansika, the Sri Lanka top-order batter, has played a big part in giving her side good starts. She has shown the temperament to attack when needed or provide a foil to the more aggressive batters at the other end. Having made scores of 38, 26 and 30 in her three most recent matches, she should be aiming to convert those starts into a big one. She has also stood out in the field, showing herself to be an alert in the slips with six catches against her name, the highest in the tournament so far.
Where the teams stand:
Both India and South Africa will carry forward four points each into the Super Six as they defeated the other teams in the group stage to qualify. Sri Lanka, who beat Ireland during the league stages and Pakistan, who beat Bangladesh, will carry forward two points each.
The qualification of these six teams means that all of them get to retain their ODI status for the next four-year cycle. Zimbabwe, Thailand, Papua New Guinea and Scotland missed out on earning ODI status as they failed to make it through to the second round.
Quote of the day:
Dane van Niekerk, South Africa captain: “To be honest, we’ve not been following the performances of teams from the other group. We’ve been trying to concentrate as much as we can on our own performances. I’m sure they’re doing really well, but at the end we’re here to compete. We’re at the business-end of the tournament and we really want to work hard.”
Number of note:
Ekta Bisht, the India left-arm tweaker who leads the side’s spin attack, is four away from having 50 ODI wickets. She now has 46 from 32 matches.