Laura Wolvaardt's century sets up the series decider as South Africa level series 1-1

Akash Ghosh
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Laura Wolvaardt's century sets up the series decider as South Africa level series 1-1
South Africa came back after two rather disappointing outings and defeated West Indies by 96 runs in the third ODI at the Wanderers, Johannesburg on Thursday (February 3). The hosts batted first posting a huge score on the board, which they got on the back of a century by Laura Wolvaardt. A disciplined performance with the ball helped them level the series 1-1, heading into the final ODI on Sunday. 

Chasing 300, West Indies didn’t have the best of starts, losing Rashada Williams in the second over. Ayabonga Khaka got her edge around the off-stump and was caught in the slips by Sune Luus. Deandra Dottin hit Khaka for a couple of boundaries but eventually chipped one to mid-wicket. The visitors were 14/2 in the first four overs, but Stafanie Taylor’s entry brought the nerves down. 

She was dropped by the wicketkeeper Sinalo Jafta once but found some solidity thereby. On the other end, Kycia Knight went on about her business, stroking some lovely shots through the covers. In the last ball of the 13th over, Nadine de Klerk’s delivery jumped on Taylor, taking her back and hitting on the helmet. In the next over, she decided to head back to the dressing room. 

She was later concussed out of the game and Aaliyah Alleyne was brought in as her replacement. Earlier in the day, Chedean Nation also got hit in the head fielding on the boundary. She was taken out by the medical staff on a stretcher. 

After Taylor was retired hurt, Hayley Matthews walked into bat. Knight carried on with a few more boundaries and Matthews settled in well with a rotating strike. However, in the 21st over, Shabnim Ismail got one to come back sharply into Matthews, getting rid of the bails. Matthews had a smile on her face and walked back for 15, with West Indies at 86 for 3. 

Knight continued being the aggressor, hitting a boundary over covers reaching her fifty off 73 deliveries. She along with Shemaine Campbelle started ticking off with easy runs, putting Proteas in some pressure. However, despite the stand building on, it wasn’t able to stop the increasing required rate. 

Knight, who seemed like one great hope for the visitors, was put under some worry with three dot balls in an over of Raisibe Ntozakhe, with Jafta chirping around. With that, the southpaw went for a shot and failed to connect, eventually holding out in the deep for 69 off 94. Chloe Tryon got Campbelle out caught and bowled for 16 off 40 in the next over. West Indies were 153 for 5 after 35 overs. 

In the 37th over, Ismail came and got two wickets in back to back deliveries, dismissing Chinelle Henry and Anisa Mohammed. Nadine de Klerk was the next one to strike, taking out Shamillia Connelle with a nice full delivery. With that the eighth wicket fell and West Indies were essentially out of the chase. 

Alleyne came in and showed some grit, hitting three boundaries. Shakera Selman hung around for her 11, but Alleyne failed to move ahead from 18 as she chipped one delivery by Ismail and was caught out on mid-on. That ended West Indies’ innings on 203 for 9 as Nation didn’t come out to bat. Ismail’s four-fer made her the stand-out bowler for the Proteas. 

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Earlier in the day, South Africa won the toss and elected to bat first. The openers began positively, especially Tazmin Brits, who smacked four boundaries in the third over by Connell. The bowler got her revenge in the next over dismissing Brits for 18 off 13. Anneke Bosch was her next victim, who managed only 5. Skipper Luus walked in next and got together in a partnership with Laura Wolvaardt. 

Wolvaardt, who was under a bit of pressure after a couple low scores, looked solid at the crease and tried to rebuild the innings after the two quick wickets. Luus, on the other end, struggled to get off the mark, taking 16 deliveries to get her first runs. This was the phase where West Indies brought the run rate down, with the hosts slipping from 39/1 in six overs to 46/2 in 11 overs. 

With the spinners coming on, the South African pair looked more and more confident as the overs ticked by. At the 20-over mark, South Africa had posted 86 for 2 on the board. Both Wolvaardt and Luus found their own way to keep the board moving against the spinner. Lulus was working well with her sweep while Wolvaardt’s footwork, going back to the short delivery, was going to be a highlight of her knock. She reached her fifty off 70 deliveries. 

Between the overs 20 to 30, the pair batted more aggressively, taking a boundary from time to time along with clever rotation of strike. They picked 60 runs in those ten overs, with Wolvaardt pressing the foot on the accelerator. Luus got to her fifty meanwhile, from 81 balls. Mohammed finally got her wicket when she fired one in and Luus failed to a play sweep, getting out for 56 off 93. With that, the stand between her and Wolvaardt of 141 runs came to an end. 

As South Africa’s innings reached the 40-over mark, the right-handed batter reached her third ODI century off 114 deliveries. She got her second fifty in 44 balls and took on an attacking role post her century. She hit a fantastic four through the covers off Henry and then smashed a six straight down the ground off Mohammed. 

The very next ball, Mignon du Preez got run out for 11 as Wolvaardt hit a ball hard straight which recociated off Mohammed’s hand to hit the stumps on the bowler’s end. Wolvaardt got out for 117 off 123, getting 17 in seven deliveries paving the way for upping the run rate in the death overs. Tryon hit a six off her second ball and continued that mood till she was dismissed. 

From 198/3 after 40 overs, South Africa got to 258/5 after 45 overs, courtesy of Tryon’s hitting, especially against Henry, who was hit for two fours and two sixes. Nadine de Klerk, who was watching at the other end, herself got into the act hitting Mohammed for three consecutive fours in the 48th over. Tryon was finally dismissed for 43 off 24 while de Klerk made 22 off 15, in a stand of 75 runs in six overs. 

Both the players were dismissed by Connell in the penultimate over, who finished with her career best figures of 4 for 54, which is impressive, considering she was hit for 22 from her first two overs. The wickets ensured South Africa didn’t cross 300, ending with 299 for 8. 

Brief scores: 

South Africa 299/8 in 50 overs (Laura Wolvaardt 117, Sune Luus 56; Shamilia Connell 4/54) beat West Indies 203/9 in 44.3 overs (Kycia Knight 69; Shabnim Ismail 4/37) by 96 runs.