Shabnim Ismail. © ICC

South Africa opened their account in the ICC Women’s World Twenty-20 by registering a seven wicket win over Sri Lanka. In a low scoring affair, Sri Lanka posted 99-8 on the board, which South Africa then chased down in the 19th over.

South Africa’s chase got off to a horror start. First, Laura Wolvaardt was bowled Udeshika Prabodani off the last ball of the opening over. Her opening partner Lizelle Lee then departed off the very next ball, caught by Surangika Kumari, off the bowling of Sripali Weerakody. South Africa had been reduced to 6-2 inside the second over. From there, Marizanna Kapp- who had been promoted up the order- and Dane van Niekerk led the rebuilding effort. They took their time, settling themselves at the crease and getting used to the conditions, scoring boundaries only when they were on offer.

In their 67 run stand, Kapp top-scored with a steady 38 off 44. van Niekerk batted throughout the innings, finishing on 33* off 45. So patient was her knock, that just eight runs from the 33 came from boundaries. It was not until Kapp was dismissed in the last over, LBW by Sashikala Siriwardena, that Mignon du Preez cam to the crease and played with some aggression. She backed her captain to keep playing the way she was, and took on the responsibility of attacking. She finished off the chase in style, smashing a four to hand her team the win.

Earlier, the Sri Lankan batters had struggled. The pitch in St. Lucia had something in it for pacers and South Africa boasts one of the bowling attacks in the world. Their pacers exploited the conditions, Shabnim Ismail doing the most damage. She was named Player-of-the-Match for her three-wicket haul.

Inside the Power Play, Sri Lanka had been reduced to 16-2. Kapp managed to dismiss the dangerous Chamari Attapattu by having her caught LBW for just three. Her opening partner Yashoda Mendis  was then bowled by Ismail. Sashikala Siriwardena, who came in two down, tried to anchor the innings, top-scoring with 21 off 27 balls, but with wickets falling all around her, she eventually succumbed to the South African bowling attack when Tumi Sekhukhune dislodged the bails of her stumps. The only batter who showed real intent for Sri Lanka probably came in when it was too late. Dilani Manodara seemed to see no demons in the pitch. She hammered an unbeaten 20 off just 12 deliveries. Her knock consisted off four fours. It was her late order hitting that enabled Sri Lanka to even get close to the 100-run mark, which was initially looking doubtful.

Apart from Ismail, the remaining South African bowlers all took a wicket each. van Niekerk was most economical, finishing with figures of 1-7. Kapp was next, picking up a wicket and leaking just 13 runs.

South Africa have no registered their first win of the tournament, earning two points. Sri Lanka currently have one point, which they were awarded as their match against England was rained out. Judging from the pitch in St. Lucia, South Africa showed be a threat there as it does suit pace.