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Five players to watch as Proteas look to end the season on positive note

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The Proteas side has two ODIs against Sri Lanka in which to finish the home summer on a positive note and, most importantly, build some momentum heading into the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh in September and October.

Nadine de Klerk of South Africa has been impressive this season with both bat and ball, and will be key for the team in Saturday’s clash in Kimberley. Picture: Shaun Roy, BackpagePix

Ongama Gcwabe

THE Proteas Women have had a long and decent cricket season overall thus far. However, the side has lost three consecutive limited-overs series, including the recent T20 series against the Sri Lanka Women here at home.

The side now has two ODIs against Sri Lanka in which to finish the home summer on a positive note and, most importantly, build some momentum heading into the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh in September and October.

Here, Ongama Gcwabe picks five players to watch in the second ODI in Kimberley on Saturday.

Karabo Meso

The country has seen very little of the 16-year-old wicketkeeper/batter since she made her T20 international debut. Her wicketkeeping skills were on full display during the two T20Is that she has played in thus far but we are yet to see much of the youngster with bat in hand.

This is partly due to the fact she has been asked to bat at No.8. With her talent, Meso has the potential to win matches for the country if given an opportunity to bat higher up the order.

Vishmi Gunaratne

Gunaratne is only 18 years old and already has almost two years of international cricket under the belt. She is a classy top-order batter who is a delight to watch. She plays aesthetically pleasing drives, is able to time the crispest cut shots and plays the hardest shot in the book – the on-drive – as though it comes natural to her.

Gunaratne has one half-century on this tour but one can tell that a batter of her calibre will score many more runs in the future.

Nadine de Klerk

De Klerk has been impressive this season with both bat and ball. Her maturity as an all-rounder has seen her promoted up the batting order to the No.6 position, while with ball in hand she is normally used as a first or second change bowling option.

De Klerk finished the T20I series in the top 10 on the run scorers’ list with an average of 61 and a strike rate of 145, the second-highest among SA’s top six batters. During Tuesday’s ODI in East London, she scored a 22-ball 34. The all-rounder will be key on Saturday as the hosts look to go 1-0 up in the series.

Chamari Athapaththu

The Sri Lanka captain has looked on song in her three innings on this tour. The calm and composure that she brings at the top of the order is invaluable, more so in a side that has a fairly young batting unit.

So far the skipper has scored one half-century on the tour. But most importantly, that fifty came during the T20I series decider and it laid a strong foundation for the Sri Lanka Women’s first series victory in South Africa.

With the second ODI scheduled to be played at the Diamond Oval on Saturday, a track that tends to favour the batters on most occasions, Athapaththu will be a threat to the Proteas Women’s bowling attack.

Laura Wolvaardt

The SA Women’s captain has also been in fine form opening the batting alongside Tazmin Brits. Wolvaardt’s match-winning century in the first T20I match in Benoni was the highlight of the series for the home side.

The tour has now switched to the 50-over format, Wolvaardt’s favourite of the two limited-overs formats. And for that reason alone, the captain probably has another big knock right around the corner.

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