England will be SA's toughest World Cup challenge yet
Teams who dismiss their opponents for 48 might consider themselves unbeatable‚ but that would spell disaster for South Africa in their women’s World Cup match against England in Bristol on Wednesday.
West Indies found themselves on the wrong end of a rampant South African attack at Grace Road in Leicester on Sunday‚ when Dane van Niekerk’s team won by 10 wickets.
That earned South Africa their second win in three games‚ with the other washed out.
Victory on Wednesday would keep them on course for a place in the semi-finals.
But they will have to work harder than they have done so far in the tournament to beat a team who are ranked second — behind Australia — and have won the trophy three of the 10 times it has been up for grabs.
“We realise we are playing against the home side and a team who have been earmarked to win the World Cup‚” South Africa coach Hilton Moreeng said.
“But as a team we know what we’re good at and what we can do‚ and our focus as a team since we landed here has been to worry about what we can do and focus on what we do best.”
Clearly‚ bowling is what South Africa do best‚ what with the No. 1 ranked Marizanne Kapp and the aggressive Shabnim Ismail in their ranks.
But bowlers are only as good as their teammates waiting with palms outstretched.
“Fielding is key in these conditions‚” Moreeng said. “The grounds are very small‚ and very difficult to defend on.
“Our bowlers need to be backed up by good fielding. We need to make sure that‚ when the bowlers create opportunities‚ we take them.”
England‚ who have beaten Sri Lanka and Pakistan‚ and lost to India‚ knew what they were up against.
“We’ll be expecting a bit more pace on the ball compared to Sri Lanka‚” their captain‚ Heather Knight‚ said of the South Africans. “They’ve got a few slightly quicker bowlers than we have faced in the last two games‚ and maybe slightly less spin.
“With the bat they’ve got some really destructive players.”
The match could turn on how South Africa’s batsmen deal with England’s bowlers.
It won’t help the South Africans’ peace of mind that they suffered three runouts in what became a stuttering win over Pakistan.
But they could see that as a reason to have faith in their middle and lower order to get them out of trouble.
England will test both theories in Bristol on Wednesday.