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Proteas won’t get ahead of themselves

Marizanne Kapp of South Africa during the 2018 T20 Women’s International against India at Newlands Cricket Ground, Cape Town on 24 February 2018. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky, BackpagePix

‘We shift our focus to our game against India. We still have a few things we would like to work on. And it doesn’t matter who we come up against in the semi-final’ – Marizanne Kapp.

IN ALL of South Africa’s women’s World Cup cricket history dating back 25 years and six tournaments they have only previously qualified for the semi-finals twice.

Yesterday in the pelting rain of the New Zealand capital a third – and second successive – semi-final place was secured after a washout against the West Indies.

The morning Wellington rain which greeted the players forced the match to be reduced to 26 overs initially, but the players only managed to get out onto the soggy Basin Reserve turf for 10.5 overs.

This was, though, enough for the West Indies to expose SA’s fragile top order once more by reducing the Proteas to 22/4 in 5.3 overs before the under pressure Mignon du Preez staged a mini-recovery with an undefeated 38 when the umpires eventually called off the game.

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SA had progressed to 61/4 at that stage and it would no doubt have been interesting to watch the Proteas bowling attack go about their business in such helpful conditions later on.

Their energies are now best kept in reserve as SA can start focusing fully on their semi without the extra pressure of having to beat India in their final round-robin game on Sunday.

The Proteas’ knockout opponents have yet to be decided with India, the West Indies and England still vying for the remaining two spots alongside table-toppers Australia.

All-rounder Marizanne Kapp is, however, not paying too much attention to anything outside of their control, and instead wants her team to focus on improving their own performance.

“We’re just happy to have qualified. We shift our focus to our game against India. We still have a few things we would like to work on. And it doesn’t matter who we come up against in the semi-final,” Kapp said.

“Like I said we still have to focus on our game against India because we want to finish the group stages well and then we’ll shift our focus to the semi-final. I feel like this time around, we will be better prepared.”

SA are currently playing musical chairs with the critical No.3 position after Tazmin Brits returned to the line-up at the expense of Lara Goodall. It did not yield a change of fortune with Brits failing yet again.

This Achilles’ heel of the Proteas batting line-up is certainly a major issue leading up to the semi-final and it seems SA are lost for answers at this crucial juncture.

Kapp admitted that the Proteas have “struggled a bit” at first drop and that “we’ve tried our best to try and conquer that and get the best solution”, but she preferred to focus on the positives of Du Preez returning to some sort of form after a having a heart-to-heart with the veteran batter.

Du Preez, who played her 150th ODI during the World Cup, certainly rediscovered her fluency against the West Indies by striking six crisp boundaries after benefiting from a let-off the first ball she faced.

“I’ve been playing with Mignon for a very long time, I know she’s been struggling and I’ve been trying to support her in every way I can. I just told her like – look being a bowler I know the wicket is probably going to be spicy and move around a bit and I saw there was extra bounce, so I just told her to not play at the pace of the ball – if they’re bowling in good areas leave them; wait for them to bowl at the wickets, at you because that takes the slips and that catching points out of the game and we’ll wait for them to come to us and as soon as we started doing that you saw she score freely,” Kapp said.

“I almost feel a bit better after today because we have someone like Minx being out there in the middle today, she looked a million dollars so I’m really excited to see her play moving forward – now I felt like it was just one knock away for her and I believe she’ll come good now as we move forward.”

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