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Proteas vs Australia – five key battles that could decide T20 World Cup clash outcome

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Sports correspondent Zaahier Adams highlights five key individual battles that could decide the contest.

Marizanne Kapp will no doubt be a key figure when the Proteas try to navigate a win over Australia. Picture: Shaun Roy, BackpagePix

Cape Town – All roads lead to St George’s Park in Gqeberha on Saturday evening for the much-anticipated ICC Women’s T20 World Cup clash between hosts South Africa and world champions Australia.

It will be the first time the Proteas will face the Aussies in a T20I clash since their epic rain-curtailed semi-final at the last ICC T20 World Cup at the SCG in 2020. The Aussies emerged victorious by five runs, and went to lift the trophy at the MCG before a record 86 174 spectators.

Sports correspondent Zaahier Adams highlights five key individual battles that could decide the contest.

Shabnim Ismail (SA) vs Alyssa Healy (Aus)

Both these players set the tone upfront for their respective teams with their aggressive style. Ismail, of course, charges in with the new ball and looks to strike early to put her team on the front foot. Equally, Healy stands back with willow in hand for nobody in world cricket and has the ability to win matches in the Powerplay itself.

This is a classic example of when fire meets fire, and the St George’s Park crowd could be in for one helluva fireworks display!

Nonkululeko Mlaba (SA) vs Beth Mooney (Aus)

Left-arm spinner Mlaba is much more comfortable against the right-handers, as she displayed by running through New Zealand’s top-order. However, she faces an entirely different prospect in Mooney.

The Australian is a classy left-hander, and has been prolific at the top of the order for some time, particularly keeping her best form for major tournaments. If Mooney gets on top of young Mlaba early on, it could severely scupper South Africa’s bowling plans.

Marizanne Kapp (SA) vs Ashleigh Gardner (Aus)

The two ‘GUN’ all-rounders in their respective teams. Kapp is the cornerstone of both the Proteas’ batting and bowling units, bowling first-change and batting in the crucial No.3 position. She has yet to deliver her best in the tournament thus far, but she would love nothing more than to display her talents to its full potential in front of her home crowd for the first time.

Gardener, ranked No.1 as the premier all-rounder in the world, has simply taken her game to the next level in recent times. She already has a ‘five-for’ in the tournament with the ball, while the Aussies haven’t needed her explosiveness with the bat just yet. Whoever cancels each other out on Saturday evening will have a major bearing on their team’s result.

Laura Wolvaardt vs Megan Schutt

South Africa’s stylish opener Wolvaardt is the mainstay of the Proteas’ batting unit. After a successful transition to the middle-order in T20 cricket, where she was named in the last ICC Women’s T20 World Cup XI for her sparkling displays at the backend of the innings, the Proteas have reverted to using Wolvaardt at the top.

It hasn’t quite yet reaped dividends and she will like nothing more than to show her class against this top-notch Australian team. Schutt, meanwhile, the veteran Aussie seamer has quietly been going about her business and picked up 4/24 in the previous match against Sri Lanka. An intriguing battle awaits…

Suné Luus (SA) vs Meg Lanning (Aus)

The two skippers enter the contest in two entirely different mindsets. Luus is under severe pressure, knowing that her team has to climb Mount Everest by beating the Aussies if they want a clearer passage to the semi-finals.

In contrast, Lanning simply has to avoid her team from suffering from any form of complacency as the Aussies continue to power past anyone that stands in their path. Lanning will no doubt put Luus under pressure in terms of her tactical decision making, and it will be interesting to note where she retreats or responds positively.

@ZaahierAdams

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