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Is Lee ready to plunder Pakistan spinners?

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The Proteas Women’s team will be hoping that Lizelle Lee will be fit for their World Cup match against Pakistan. Picture: Gauraw Singh/CSA

The Proteas team management have yet to confirm whether the blockbusting opener Lizelle Lee will take her place in the starting XI for their World Cup clash against Pakistan.

Cape Town – Will she play, won’t she play? That remains the Lizelle Lee dilemma ahead of the Proteas’ second ICC Women’s World Cup game against Pakistan at Mount Maunganui on Friday.

Lee has been “training well” with her teammates all week since being discharged from the mandatory seven-day quarantine period last Sunday, but the Proteas team management have yet to confirm whether the blockbusting opener will indeed take her place in the starting XI.

There’s no doubt that Lee will be given every opportunity to fulfill her fitness obligations with the Proteas particularly lacking her immense power at the top of order, but in the same breath they would dare not risk a long-term injury with the tournament still in its infancy stages.

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“It’s great to have Lizelle back. I know she’s been working really hard back home. Its exciting to have her back in the group. She is a world class player. We just have to wait and see if she’s going to play,” Proteas vice-captain Chloe Tryon said at the pre-match press conference.

The impact of Lee’s absence, which was originally due to Covid-19 complications during the West Indies series prior to the World Cup before her late arrival in New Zealand pending the birth of her son, has been greater due to captain Dane van Niekerk also not being in New Zealand through injury.

The duo are often the aggressors in the Proteas line-up and the team have relied heavily on them to create and then sustain the momentum throughout the innings.

Lee’s return can surely not come quicker though for the Proteas after they laboured to 207 in the tournament opener last weekend against Bangladesh.

Crucially, Pakistan will most likely also feature a similar spin-heavy attack to the Bangladeshis.

The Proteas top-order, which consisted of Laura Wolvaardt, Tazmin Brits and Lara Goodall – particularly the latter two batters – found themselves caught in a web of Bangladeshi spin in Dunedin and struggled to maintain a decent scoring rate.

ALSO READ: ‘Sloppy’ win proves that Proteas need Lizelle Lee back

The run-rate subsequently nose dived during this period, hovering around the 2.5 runs per over, which placed the remaining batters under severe pressure.

“It was definitely under par. We discussed it thoroughly that we weren’t happy with our batting performance. We didn’t take responsibility up the order. We needed partnerships and we didn’t do that enough,” Tryon said.

“I thought we struggled with getting off strike quite a bit and we worked on that this week at the net sessions in terms of finding ways to get off strike. The wickets are a bit slow, but we have to try and find a way to make 270-plus on these wickets.”

Overall the Proteas will be looking to deliver a much more clinical performance. Even though the bowling unit saved the team from an embarrassing loss against the tournament debutants, they still delivered an overly generous 17 wides at the University Oval.

In the context of closely-contested matches such ill-discipline can prove to be the fundamental difference as defending champions England discovered in their first-ever World Cup defeat to the West Indies on Wednesday. England delivered 25 wides and ultimately lost by just seven runs.

Equally, the Proteas cannot let allow any form of complacency to slip into their game on the basis of having recorded a 5-0 cleansweep when the teams met last year and the fact that Pakistan have lost both their matches thus far at this World Cup.

“We’ve played them enough times to know they have a good squad. We know we have to play our best cricket. Its about ticking our boxes and then we’ll know we’ll end up on top,” added Tryon.

As with any Pakistan cricket team, these circumstances only make them more dangerous, particularly at World Cups, and captain Bismah Maroof will no doubt be echoing Imran Khan’s famous team talk of the 1992 Men’s World Cup when he referred to his team as “the cornered tigers” when she addresses her charges prior to Friday’s game.

History will tell us how Imran’s charges responded to his rallying call. The Proteas will want to weather this expected Pakistan heat wave and deliver a cool, composed performance that keeps their World Cup train smoothly on its tracks.

LIKELY PROTEAS WOMEN’S TEAM FOR MOUNT MAUNGANUI

Laura Wolvaardt, Lizelle Lee/Tazmin Britz, Lara Goodall, Sune Luus (captain), Mignon du Preez, Marizanne Kapp, Chloe Tryon, Trisha Chetty (wk), Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas.

Start: Friday, 03:00.

@ZaahierAdams

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