The Momentum Proteas are gearing up for their ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup semifinal against England knowing that a win will secure their place in a first-ever World Cup final.
Proteas Women players celebrate the fall of a wicket in their ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup match against Pakistan on 11 March 2022. Picture: @cricketworldcup/Twitter
JOHANNESBURG – The Momentum Proteas are gearing up for their ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup semifinal against England knowing that a win will secure their place in a first-ever World Cup final.
South Africa have previously reached the last four on two occasions, in 2000 and then again in 2017, when they lost out to the same opponents that they are facing on Thursday.
The two have had contrasting runs to make it to this stage of the tournament, with the Proteas securing qualification early on having won five out of seven matches in the group phase. England, the defending champions, on the other hand, had to recover from a stuttering start but won four matches in a row to finish third.
One could argue that the Proteas head into the game as slight favourites given the way that both teams qualified and the fact that they now have the number one ODI batter in their ranks in the form of Laura Wolvaardt. The opener has been exceptional in the tournament so far and she leads the run-scoring with 433 runs. Hilton Moreeng’s charges have been no slouches with the ball either, with Ayabonga Khaka (11), Shabnim Ismail (11) and Marizanne Kapp (10) all in double figures when it comes to wicket-taking.
Despite their dominance on paper, South Africa have had to work hard for all of their wins in the tournament, with four of their group stage wins coming in the final over. Ahead of the semifinal, captain Sune Luus said that it would be foolish to think that the game against England will be any different.
“I think, as we have seen in this World Cup, every game has been close and I don’t think this game will be any different, so if we have that opportunity to have that moment of brilliance in the field somewhere, that would definitely help,” Luus said.
South Africa may have the psychological advantage over their opponents having beaten them by three wickets in the group stage match but Luus is adamant that they are not thinking too much about that game and that this will be a different challenge.
“They are obviously going to bring their A-game and we just need to be extremely clinical. They have had experience of semifinals and playing against us in the semifinal as well, so I think this game will be about who is at their best for longer periods of time and who can stay focused for longer,” she said.
On a personal note, Luus said that it had been a big honour to lead the team at the tournament in the absence of regular captain Dane van Niekerk.
“It’s something I never really thought of doing, especially so soon in my career and I think there will probably be a couple of tears at the beginning of the game because it’s a massive opportunity to make history for South Africa and to change lives back home as well,” she said.
The match against England gets underway at 3am (SA time) on Thursday morning, with the winner playing Australia in Sunday’s final after they beat the West Indies by 157 runs in the first semifinal.
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