WOMEN’S WORLD CUP
Great Dane steers SA to big win and spot in semis
Dane van Niekerk took her third four-wicket haul in four matches to bowl SA into the World Cup semifinals for the second time against Sri Lanka in Taunton on Wednesday,
Leg spinner Van Niekerk, who is also SA’s captain, claimed 4/24 to help her team dismiss the Lankans for 101.
The South Africans strolled to victory by eight wickets with 26.5 overs to spare.
Van Niekerk took 4/0 — making her the first bowler in international cricket, male or female, to take that many wickets without conceding a run — against West Indies and 4/22 against India.
Already the leading bowler in the tournament going into Wednesday’s match, Van Niekerk improved her record for the event to 13 wickets at an average of 6.46 and an economy rate of 2.76.
The Lankans were reduced to 5/2 inside five overs and were never able to come to terms with SA’s twin-pronged bowling approach epitomised by Van Niekerk and quality quick Shabnim Ismail, who took 3/14.
Chamari Polgampala and Dilani Manodara, who each scored 25, were among only three Lankans who made it to double figures.
SA were troubled only initially in the chase.
The hard-hitting Lizelle Lee edged to the wicketkeeper for a duck in the first over and No3 Trisha Chetty played across the line to Ranaweera’s left-arm spin as the Sri Lanka bowlers tightened their lines after the first four overs.
Eighteen-year-old Laura Wolvaardt, the other opener, and the experienced Mignon du Preez saw them through till the lunch break, which was taken after seven overs, making Sri Lanka’s hopes linger a little longer.
Wolvaardt and Du Preez were hardly troubled once they returned, barely taking the aerial route but sweeping to good effect to keep the score ticking.
While Du Preez used her experience and composure, Wolvaardt displayed attractive strokeplay with her high elbow to drive the ball elegantly.
Opening bowler Sripali Weerakkody put down a tough return catch from Du Preez, who was on 34, and injured her left shoulder.
Even if she had taken the catch, it would not have helped Sri Lanka too much: SA were only 16 away at the time and took less than three overs after that to bag two more points.
SA’s remaining group game is against Australia, who earned their fifth win in six matches against India on Wednesday.
The win took SA’s points tally to nine and since India and New Zealand lost their respective matches, the fixture between them on July 15 will decide the fourth semifinalist.
The only previous instance of SA reaching the semifinals was in 2000, when they went down by eight wickets to Australia.
SA’s semifinal opponents are not yet known.