WT20 : Women Ireland vs South Africa World T20 Preview
After losing to Australia Women, Mignon du Preez’s side must do all the running against the lowest-ranked team in the competition. South Africa has enjoyed a lot of success in the past few months.
Ahead of Ireland Women’s third ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Group A fixture, against South Africa Women on Wednesday (March 22) in Chennai, Isobel Joyce was happy to concede that Ireland was the underdog.
But the truth is that South Africa, coming off a disappointing loss to Australia Women, must do all the running. With matches against New Zealand Women and Sri Lanka Women lined up, a slip up on Wednesday could hamper South Africa’s chances of advancing.
South Africa has enjoyed a lot of success in the past few months. It hosted England Women and West Indies Women, and gave a good account of themselves in the limited-overs series. Coming back from one game down, South Africa levelled the series against England, registering its first T20 International win against the side. England eventually won the series, but South Africa gained enough confidence to beat West Indies 2-1 in the next series – the first time it had done so.
However, things changed once it got to India. South Africa lost both its warm-up games, in Chennai, ahead of the tournament and went down by six wickets against Australia in its opening match.
Over the last couple of years, Dane van Niekerk’s transformation from being a bowling all-rounder to an aggressive opener, who can chip in with a few overs when needed, has been phenomenal. In Trisha Chetty and Mignon du Preez, the captain, South Africa has two reliable batters with sufficient experience at the top level. Marizanne Kapp normally plays the role of an anchor, while Lizelle Lee’s role in the middle order cannot be understated.
Despite Lee’s indifferent form, du Preez believed the right-hand batter would be the key in a middle order that has failed to fire so far. “I won’t say our middle order is a weak,” observed du Preez. “We know we’re better than what we have performed recently. We’ve had a few discussions on how we can go about it and improve. We just haven’t executed as well as we would have liked.”
Although South Africa’s bowling attack poses enough variety, they couldn’t do much to defend a modest 102 when their ability was put to test against a top-class side like Australia.
With Shabnim Ismail the only big threat, the others, especially the pacers, in the South African squad look more like support bowlers. However, on a typical Chepauk wicket, it’s the spinners that are expected to call the shots, with van Niekerk and Sune Luusthe crucial players.
Success has eluded Ireland so far in the tournament. Having lost both its warm-up matches, against India Women and Bangladesh Women, Ireland looked out of its depth against New Zealand as it hurtled to a 93-run loss. Ciara Metcalfe, the experienced leg-spinner, did well to restrict Sri Lanka to 129 in the next game with her four-wicket haul, but their batters failed to convert starts and Ireland fell 14 runs short of the target.
The lowest-ranked team in the tournament, Ireland has never beaten any of the teams in its group, and it would take something really special for it from here on.
Joyce harped on the importance of keeping things simple and going into the game with a positive mindset. “I think every game is our best chance to win, that’s how we go into every match,” she said. “We’ll be hoping to surprise South Africa, they will probably be expecting to win. But we are definitely targeting this match.”
Both teams are bruised, but South Africa, having made it to the semi-final the last time after beating a heavyweight like New Zealand, would definitely fancy its chances. Ireland, on the other hand, has nothing to lose and would be backing itself to cause an upset.
South Africa Women: Mignon du Preez (capt), Trisha Chetty (wk), Moseline Daniels, Dinesha Devnarain, Odine Kirsten, Yolani Fourie, Chloe Tryon, Shabnim Ismail, Marizanne Kapp, Masabata Klaas, Ayabonga Khaka, Lizelle Lee, Marcia Letsoalo, Sune Luus, Dane van Niekerk.
Ireland Women: Isabel Joyce (capt), Clare Shillington, Mary Waldron (wk), Lucy O’Reilly, Kate McKenna, Ciara Metcalfe, Robyn Lewis, Gaby Lewis, Kim Grath, Shauna Kavanagh, Amy Kenealy, Jennifer Gray, Laura Delany, Cath Dalon, Cecelia Joyce.