In an exasperating display of bowling where medium pace aligned with genuine spin talent, to give the hosts an edge, again, the White Ferns vs Proteas Women 2nd T20, held at Seddon Park, turned to be a one-way street, much to the chagrin of van Niekerk’s ladies.
In going 2-nil up with 3 more games to go, it’s anybody’s guess who is currently sitting on the driver’s seat. The White Ferns vs Proteas Women 2nd T20 unfurled another low-scoring encounter where the chasing side overcame a not so daunting ask to score at exact 6-an over with the Proteas Women buckling down under a constant flurry of wickets that never let them score freely, the visitors putting only 119 on the board, which was 3 better than their 1st T20 outing that yielded only 116 runs.
In reply, the White Ferns never really looked troubled led brilliantly by yet another emphatic batting display by Sophie Devine, always a good sight with the captain leading by example. It wasn’t that the Proteas Women didn’t battle hard -true to their fighting abilities- removing the dangerous Priest, the indomitable Bates, and Perkins cheaply, but in the end, you wondered whether an ask of 120 was ever going to put the White Ferns on the backfoot, especially with Devine seeming in a divine touch.
Which moments stood out in the White Ferns vs Proteas Women 2nd T20?
A Controlled Bowling Display By The White Ferns
The batswomen never really looked settled, despite being given an opportunity to score on a green surface where runs weren’t that easy to find. You understood the relative comfort the White Ferns found themselves in when someone like Suzie Bates wasn’t even brought out to bowl at the South Africans.
But it was clear why.
For the troika of Rosemary Mair- who removed the dangerous Lizelle Lee for 2 and the experienced Trisha Chetty for 7 off 13- joined forces with Tahuhu- an excellent 2-for- and Devine- 1 wicket of de Klerk- to put the brakes on South African scoring.
The key highlight of the White Ferns vs Proteas Women 2nd T20 2020 was the sensational bowling display that never allowed South Africa to recover, who’d lost their top 3 wickets inside 8 overs for just 39, indicating the red-hot form of the hosts.
Thus far, we’ve got low-scoring games in the series with another 3 to be played. One wonders what lies ahead.
Tahuhu’s Spell Stands Out
In what proved to be a masterstroke for the home team, during White Ferns vs Proteas Women 2nd T20, Tahuhu, picked specifically for the World Cup preparations, starred with a fine spell of taking 2 for just 10. Read that again, just 10 runs from her full spell of 4 overs.
Talk of a miserly spell of bowling and that’s the kind of spell you expect from an experienced medium pacer.
How often does one see a medium-pacer in a T20 versus a side powered by hitters in Lee, van Niekerk, Luus and batswomen of the class of du Preez emerge with just 10 from 4 full overs?
That just goes to show the current batting vulnerabilities in one of the most gifted sides in world cricket. In taking the big wickets of Niekerk – who was well set on her 25- and later, Tryon- out for naught- Lea Tahuhu returned to her wicket-taking ways. She now has 46 wickets from just 51 bowling innings (before the 2nd T20).
Mignon’s lone fight
40 of her team’s 119 runs came from the bat of former skipper and the scorer of most T20 runs in the Proteas Women’s unit. This may not have been a sensational knock for it couldn’t star in a win for the passionate Proteas women’s side. But Mignon du Preez’ valuable and determined 40 steadied the ship when nothing seemed to be going the Proteas’ way. It was both a composed and fiery knock in the sense that it carved much-needed runs for a side that had been struggling and featured some instances of counter-attacking batting that featured 4 boundaries and 2 sixes, coming off only 26 deliveries.
In a side where strike rates that point overwhelmingly north of 120 are a regular feature of Lee and Tryon’s batting, it was Mignon du Preez’ batting, at a strike rate of 153.8 that kept South Africa in the game. This, of course, may not have come without a grind, as the dependable right-hander has worked her game, for much of the last year to up her strike rate. We learned an instance of this during the Proteas’ tour to India, in 2019, where du Preez’ 59 off just 43 (strike rate of 137, 3 sixes), another valiant knock that kept the team very much in the hunt of India’s ask of 131, gave an indication of her fierce batting abilities, powered by the big shots.
The bedrock of the South African middle-order continued her fine touch, as seen in these early days of 2020, with yet another valuable score. The team, it ought to be said, were steadied somewhat after having been reduced to 1 for 3, then going to 2 for 35 and finally, 3 for 39 before the Mignon and Niekerk stand revived the waning fortunes of the side.
The Proteas openers struggle to get going, again
For a side whose openers put a staggering 163-run stand in the opening contest of the 3-match ODI series, held a short while back, it seems both Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt are struggling at the moment. The formidable right-handed pair has, in the past, flayed bowling attacks, regardless of turfs or opposition. Usually, the duo enjoys great chemistry and doesn’t seem that much in trouble when it gets going. The belligerent Lizelle Lee, someone who’s already amassed over 1500 T20 runs, and the watchful but fluent Wolvaardt, a batting prodigy, don’t take that long before making their intentions clear to the best of the bowlers. Yet a startling and somewhat disappointing feature of the White Ferns vs Proteas Women 2nd T20 was another struggle by the two South African openers.
While Lee could only make 2, at the back of a lowly 17 in the opening contest- which the Proteas Women lost by 9 wickets- her partner, Wolvaardt stuck around for as long as the completion of the 7th over, walking back for a modest 22 on the first ball of the 8th over.
One wonders, how solid would have the visitor’s scorecard looked had both usually free-scoring batters got going?
Sophie Devine’s excellent all-round show
It’s a bit of a statistical anomaly to submit that the White Ferns play with 11 talents on any given day. Wondering how? Given the sheer all-round potential in Devine and Bates- two superstars of the quiet and focused side- it appears that on any given day, the White Ferns field 13 women instead of 11, with Devine and Bates being 2 players rolled into 1, given their doubtless matchwinning potential.
Then it’s something which will again come in handy for the upcoming Women’s World T20, 2020. But that said, what aided the hosts, once again, was the fantastic all-round show by one of the greats of the current game as Devine, the captain led from the front scoring a damaging 61, off just 43 balls, featuring 5 sixes.
It would be the kind of knock that would dampen Proteas Women’s hopes especially since 120 was anyways never going to trouble a team that had its captain in a bludgeoning form. Previously, before the right-hander would wield the bat and club the usual fours and sixes, Devine would remove the T20 specialist Nadine de Klerk for just 9. Moments before, she starred in executing the run-out of the well-set Laura Wolvaardt, who may have wanted to stick around for longer, having already compiled a watchful 22.