World T20: Proteas women celebrate first victory against NZ
The South African women's cricket beat New Zealand's White Ferns by five wickets on Monday to qualify for the semifinals of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Women's World T20.
South Africa are currently the only side with both teams already in the semi-final stage of the competition, which is taking place in Bangladesh although West Indies could achieve that status when their men play their final pool match tomorrow. This is also the Proteas Women's first victory against the White Ferns in a World Cup.
New Zealand were restricted to a modest total of 114/8 after winning the toss and opting to bat first. The bowlers, led by Marizanne Kapp (3/23) and Dané van Niekerk (2/12), bowled some of their best spells in the tournament and their colleagues kept their fielding tight.
Sophie Devine was the only batter to reach 40, with everyone else restricted to less than Suzie Bates's 16.
"I thought that our bowlers did an incredible job today," South African captain Mignon du Preez commented after the match.
"Kappie [Marizanne Kapp] and Dané [van Niekerk] as the seniors led from the front and took matters into their own hands, taking wickets just when we needed them. The rest of our bowling unit, including Suné [Luus], PJ [Sunette Loubser] and Shibby [Shabnim Ismail] were fantastic in keeping the pressure up.
"I am extremely impressed with the dog fight and spirit that the team displayed. We knew that this was a make-or-break game and we put our hearts into it and I'm just really glad we gave the country something to cheer for today," she continued.
'Few kinks to work out'
South Africa successfully chased the required score with four balls to spare. Du Preez played a captain's innings, scoring the only half-century of the match as well as dominating her 54-run, fifth-wicket partnership with Kapp to lead her side to victory.
"It's always great to be able to pitch in and play a big role for the team, just as they need it," Du Preez said.
Looking ahead to the semis, which will see the Proteas play either West Indies or England, Du Preez said her side would go about the rest of the tournament as they have been doing from the start.
"I think the formula we have been using has worked for us so far and we're happy to continue with things the way that they are. We have a few kinks to work out, but right now, we are just going to regroup and just for tonight, enjoy this epic and historic win," she concluded.
Greatest moments in history
Meanwhile, Cricket South Africa (CSA) hailed the women's success as one of the greatest moments in the history of women's sport in South Africa.
"This is unquestionably the greatest moment in the history of South African women's cricket to reach the semifinals of a major ICC event," commented CSA president Chris Nenzani.
"It is indeed one of the great moments in the history of women's sport in our country.
"We are extremely proud of what our team has achieved and I wish them
everything of the best for the rest of the tournament." – Sapa