MATCH REPORT: South Africa v Sri Lanka
South Africa secured their place in the semi-finals today with a comprehensive 8 wicket win over Sri Lanka, chasing down the required runs in 23.1 overs having bowled them out for 101.
Dane van Niekerk once again starred with the ball, finishing with 4-24 and, with 13 scalps so far, retaining her position as the tournament’s leading wicket-taker.
Speaking about her success after the game, she said that playing in last year’s inaugural Kia Super League had been a big help in getting her accustomed to English conditions:
“Very early [in KSL] I realised I don’t get a lot of turn on these wickets.”
“I don’t think the pitches are friendly, but you have to find a way to bowl on these wickets, because they’re not turning wickets. I think I just found my lines and my lengths. I’m not hitting them consistently, but when I hit them it is working.”
South Africa’s run chase began eventfully, with Lizelle Lee caught behind for a duck in the first over and Trisha Chetty then bowled playing across the line.
But, coming back after the lunch break with the score on 31-2, Laura Wolvaardt (48*) and Mignon du Preez (38*) ensured South Africa finished the job without alarm.
Earlier, having won the toss and chosen to bat, Sri Lanka had quickly found themselves in trouble, as Marizanne Kapp struck with her very first ball of the day, seizing the big wicket of Chamari Atapattu LBW. Atapattu looked rather disgruntled afterwards, shaking her fist as she disappeared into the pavilion, but replays showed that there was nothing whatsoever wrong with the decision.
Three overs later Shabnim Ismail removed Hasini Perera in a pull shot gone wrong, which ended in the hands of Lee at point - Lee tripping over her own feet, falling backwards, but managing to cling on.
By the time the powerplay ended Sri Lanka had hit just two boundaries, with the score 24-2. A limited recovery ensued, as Prasani Weerakkodi (18) and Chamari Polgampala (25) remained together for 14.5 overs in a slow-scoring 43-run partnership.
But the loopy deliveries of van Niekerk eventually got the double breakthrough her side were looking for, with both batsmen falling in the 20th over in very similar fashion - mistiming sweeps and top-edging behind the stumps.
By 12.15pm Sri Lanka were five down - Sune Luus looking somewhat sheepish as Shashikala Siriwardene holed out to deep midwicket off her full toss - and the Taunton officials were debating whether to order the press lunch early.
It did, indeed, come early - van Niekerk chipping in with her third and fourth wickets of the day, bowling successive wicket maidens in the 34th and 36th overs; and Masabata Klaas, playing in her first World Cup match, contributing a wicket-maiden of her own as Sri Lanka went from 86-5 to 86-8 in the space of 10 deliveries.
While Sri Lanka did eventually drag their total over 100 - helped along by a couple of late innings boundaries from Eshani Kaushalya - it was ultimately a disciplined performance by the South Africans to bowl the opposition out in the space of 40.3 overs.
The South African fielding, too, was excellent - plenty of diving stops in the infield, a brilliant catch by Wolvaardt at fine leg to dismiss Weerakkodi, and some innovative football skills out in the deep by Ismail.
The result, along with Australia’s win over India and England’s victory against New Zealand, means that South Africa’s position in the semi-finals next week is now secure, whatever happens in their remaining game on Saturday.