Marizanne Kapp. Picture: HAGEN HOPKINS
Marizanne Kapp. Picture: HAGEN HOPKINS

Proteas women’s captain Dane van Niekerk is backing the depth of their squad to compensate for Marizanne Kapp’s expected absence ahead of Thursday’s T20 World Cup semifinal against Australia in Sydney.

Kapp has been laid low by a viral illness and a late call will be made on her availability for Thursday’s critical clash. Van Niekerk seemed to be resigned to the fact that they may be without one of their star players‚ but has also understood that an individual’s health is far more important than the team.

“Marizanne is very important and we all know how important she is for our side. She’s one of the best pace bowlers and all-rounders in the world. It is a semifinal, but a player’s health is more important than the game‚” Van Niekerk said.

“We’re lucky enough to have 15 very talented players. Whatever decision that’s made‚ I’m confident the players will raise their hands and make sure she’s not missed too much. Sune Luus has raised hers plenty of times in Marizanne’s batting role. We’re not too worried‚ but we hope she gets up in good spirits.”

SA topped their group ahead of England‚ but they will be running into an Australian team they have never beaten.

The South Africans have been tested and succeeded at every turn. But the hosts‚ who have had to live with the exit of a key player in star all-rounder Ellyse Perry‚ have had to fight tooth and nail to remain in the tournament after a first-game loss to India.

Van Niekerk said they have been focusing on themselves‚ but the thought of a first T20 World Cup final is tempting. “We try to focus on ourselves. You can get lost in a tournament when you focus on other teams.

“We’ve been trying to build on what we’ve been doing well in each game. We try to park the negatives as much as possible. They’re out there and they’re easy to focus on‚ so we try to look at the positives as much as possible‚” Van Niekerk said.

“It’s a semifinal and anything can happen. There’s as much pressure on us as it is on them. I forget about the records. It doesn’t matter in a high-pressure game. Hopefully‚ we can get one-up on them for the first time in forever.”

Rain is forecast for Sydney on Thursday. While this works in SA’s favour because they top the group‚ this is not the way Van Niekerk wants to get to Sunday’s final. It is also SA’s first T20 World Cup semifinal in six years‚ which reminded Van Niekerk how far they have come as a team.

“The weather works in our favour‚ but if I was on the other end‚ I probably would be really upset. Everybody has worked really hard to get here. To lose out because of the weather is not ideal. I don’t think it should be like that but I believe in future that play-off games should have reserve days‚” Van Niekerk said.

“I still think about 2014. We were shell-shocked to get into the semifinals. You go there wanting to do well in a tournament‚ but it’s different to say that we’re coming to win a World Cup. We didn’t quite understand what it took then.”

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