Match Report – SA-W vs SL-W 2nd ODI, April 13, 2024

South Africa 233 for 3 (Wolvaardt 110*, Kapp 80*) beat Sri Lanka 229 (Athapaththu 51, de Klerk 3-23, Khaka 3-28) by seven wickets

Laura Wolvaardt’s third century since taking over the captaincy, and sixth overall, led South Africa to the highest successful chase in a women’s ODI in Kimberley and an unassailable 1-0 lead in the three-match series against Sri Lanka. In the process, Wolvaardt became South Africa’s leading run-scorer in ODI cricket, in her 94th game.

Crucially, South Africa have secured two more points on the women’s championship to solidify their spot in second place. Sri Lanka remain outside the automatic qualification zone for the 2025 World Cup, in eighth spot.

Wolvaardt was supported by Marizanne Kapp, who brought up her third half-century in seven innings, and shared in a 143-run fourth-wicket partnership with her captain. On a pitch with low bounce at one end, both batters were strong down the ground and Sri Lanka’s attack lacked the threat to cause them any serious problems.

The tone was set in the afternoon, when South Africa’s opening bowlers gave away very little in the opening exchanges and Sri Lanka only scored 15 runs in the first overs before Ayabonga Khaka got an early reward. She removed Vishmi Gunaratne for 7 in the sixth over. Kapp kept the pressure on with an opening spell of 5-0-8-0, including 22 dot balls.

The change bowlers were unable to maintain the same stranglehold, especially against the experience of Chamari Athapaththu. She hit the first ball she faced from Eliz-Mari Marx for four and went on to score five more boundaries off her, including four successive fours in the 14th over. Athapaththu and Hasini Perera, who was dropped by Sune Luus at slip, put on 58 for the second wicket before Perera was caught by Delmi Tucker off Nadine de Klerk’s bowling.

Athapaththu went on to bring up her 16th ODI half-century off 66 balls but was also dismissed by de Klerk, with more than half the Sri Lankan innings remaining. Hansima Karunaratne and Kavisha Dilhari combined for 61 off 69 balls for the fourth wicket, and Karunaratne hit the only six of the innnings, and Sri Lanka were on track for 250-plus on 152 for 3 after 35 overs.

Wolvaardt brought Khaka back and Karunaratne was dismissed and Sri Lanka found the going tough again. Nonkululeko Mlaba took two wickets in her sixth over, and Sri Lanka lost 3 for 20 in less than four overs. A seventh-wicket partnership of 41 off 51 between Oshadi Ranasinghe and Nilakshika Silva pushed them over 200 and they were bowled out with a ball remaining for 229. That left South Africa with the task of completing the highest successful chase in Kimberley, after they claimed the previous best when they hunted down 223 against New Zealand in 2016.

Though scoring rates have increased since then, South Africa had to do it without two of the frontline batters. Opener Tazmin Brits was ruled out of the series with a meniscus tear and sprained ligament on her left knee. She will undergo surgery next week and will be in a race against time to regain fitness ahead of the T20 World Cup. And Anneke Bosch was also forced out of the encounter with a mild concussion after being hit on the head at Friday’s training.

Lara Goodall, who has not played an ODI since September was brought into the XI and looked tentative on her return. She was out lbw to a full Achini Kulasuriya ball in the seventh over. By then, Sri Lanka should have long been rid of Wolvaardt, who was dropped on 0 by Anushka Sanjeewani. The Sri Lankan wicket-keeper who went for the catch off Wolvaardt’s outside edge one-handed while driving to her right and could not hold on.

Sri Lanka’s fielding not only cost them Wolvaardt’s runs but they also allowed Luus – given a life on 11 off a top-edge and went on to score 21 – and Kapp – dropped by Athapaththu in her follow through on 25 – to get away.

Lightning strikes were visible throughout the evening and got closer to the match venue as South Africa’s innings went on. The players were taken off the field after 34.2 overs, with the score at 157 for, with South Africa 25 runs ahead of the DLS. They returned soon afterwards to complete the chase. Wolvaardt brought up her century off 133 balls in the 44th over, with South Africa needing 22 runs to win. They got there with 14 balls to spare.

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