Dane van Niekerk scored her maiden international century against Sri Lanka. ©ICC

On the back of a resounding 3-0 whitewash in the T20Is, at Potchefstroom South Africa took on Sri Lanka in the first of the three ICC Women’s Championship matches. Sri Lanka’s last ODI was their solitary win of the ongoing season after losing 9 matches on the trot. Occupying the last spot in the rankings, Sri Lanka seemed determined to get their second consecutive win. Coincidentally the hosts South Africa and the guests Sri Lanka, both posted their previous ODI wins on the same day back in the September 2018.

Early morning showers meant it was a truncated to a 48-overs a-side match. Lankan captain Atapattu won the toss and elected to field first. The Proteas inning started with a disaster as Wolvaardt was caught by Ranaweera off Prabodhani for a first ball duck in the second over. Goodall joined the opener Andrie Steyn and steadily the pair added 23 in 8 overs before Prabodhani struck again to rattled the stumps of Goodall for 12.

Skipper Dane van Niekerk arrived to the crease to stop the further fall of wickets. Steyn and van Nierkerk kept the scoreboard ticking and brought South African 50 in the 14th over. Runs were coming only in singles and doubles as boundaries had dried up. Steadily building up her inning Steyn brought up her fourth ODI 50 in 81 deliveries. The 100 for South Africa was posted in the 26th over. Steyn hit the first six of the match in the 28th over. This was the first time the ball reached the boundary in 16 over.

In the 33rd over van Niekerk reached her 10th ODI 50 in 79 deliveries. Ranaweera trapped Steyn was leg before wicket in the next over, but by the time the pair had added 117 runs in 25 overs. Experienced du Preez arrived at the crease with the score of 146/2. van Niekerk took charge of the inning as she hit four and six in 37th over bowled by Prabodhani. In the 41st over the ball went in the air off du Preez’s leading edge and Siriwadene took an easy catch at cover area.

Playing in her 99th ODI game, the skipper van Niekerk reached her maiden 100 off 114 deliveries but fell to Ranasinghe in the penultimate over of the inning for 102.  Two more quick wickets in the span of 6 over restricted Proteas to 225/7 in 48 overs.

Having to chase a tricky target of 226, the Lankan openers Sanjeewani and Weerakkody stared confidently but played out opening overs with caution. In the 4th over Weerakkody smashed Kapp to two consecutive boundaries followed by another in the next over. 4 overs later she repeated the same sequence by scoring two boundaries in an over bowled by Klaas and one more boundary off Ismail. In the same 9th over the opening pair posted 50 partnership for the guests.

Skipper van Niekerk brought herself in the attack in the 11th over and immediately succeeded in breaking the set partnership as she trapped Sanjeewani plumb in front of the stumps for 19. She struck again in the 19th over when Atapattu was clean bowled for 15. At 82/2, Madavi joined Weerakkody who was batting at 39. But in the 26th over Weerakkody edged a delivery by Klaas and the keeper Tunnicliffe caught to dismiss her for 47.

Klaas removed Madavi in the 30th over as van Niekerk took a catch and guests seemed to have lost their way at 112/4. Needing 114 off 108 deliveries, Siriwardene smashed first two delivers off du Preez for consecutive boundaries. She steadily launched a counter attack by hitting 4 more boundaries in next 6 overs. But 1 run short of a deserving 50, she got out at 49 as Klaas struck again to pick her 3rd wicket.

Three overs later Sri Lanka lost two wickets in the over with 31 runs to win off 24 deliveries. 20 runs were needed of last 10 deliveries but de Silva hit 2 consecutive boundaries off Ismail and the target was brought to 12 runs off the last over.

Kapp, however bowled a sublime over to concede just 3 runs to bring the game home for the Proteas by 7 runs.

For her maiden ODI century, 2 key wickets in full 10 overs and a catch, the South Africa skipper Dane van Niekerk was awarded player of the match.

Both teams will meet at the same venue on Thursday with the host leading the series 1-0.