Steyn pleased to see Proteas women thrive in pressure situations

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Steyn pleased to see Proteas women thrive in pressure situations

Andrie Steyn (R) and Dane van Niekerk (L). ©Cricket South Africa

Andrie Steyn is impressed with how the Proteas have begun to find a way to emerge victorious in their close-finishing matches during this year’s inbound tour against Sri Lanka.

South Africa have twice in four fixtures, found themselves in tight endings, winning by two wickets in the second T20I in Johannesburg with one ball to spare and winning the first ODI yesterday by seven runs after the visitors had, at a time needed to bat at a run a ball for what would have been their first win so far.

While she admits that it is not ideal for them to find themselves in those situations too often, the opening batter is delighted to see that her side is beginning to live the brand of cricket that they have committed to.

“It’s a never-say-die, don’t-panic, fight-to-the-very-end type of cricket that we have begun to play and it’s really pleasing that we have come out on the winning side of all the close games that we have found ourselves in lately,” she explained. “Dané (van Niekerk) talks a lot about our attacking brand of cricket and we are living it, not only when we bat and bowl, but in our fielding as well. It’s those game changing moments like Tumi’s catch in the Jo’burg T20 that can turn a match on its head.

“I think we’ve learned a lot in the past when it comes to pressure situations,” she continued. “We’ve learned not to panic because in the past we would sort of fold in situations like that and that’s the senior players stepping up now but not only that, the juniors seeing that example being set and following that.”

The home side’s win saw them take a 1-0 lead in the three-match One-Day series and Steyn believes that it will do wonders for the team’s confidence as they look to make further gains in the ICC Women’s Championship log. She and captain Dané van Niekerk shared a match-winning 117-run, third-wicket stand that saw her notch up her fourth ODI half-century (75 off 100 balls) and the skipper her maiden ODI century (102 off 117 balls) as they went.

“I think it’s very big (the confidence boost), especially with the ICC (Women’s) Championship. I mean, our goal is to get six points from these three games to give ourselves the best chance to qualify (for the 2021 ICC Women’s World Cup),” she went on. “So it’s a massive confidence booster especially because it was such a close game and we pulled it through. We can only improve from that.”

On the influence that Van Niekerk had on her batting out in the middle, Steyn said;

“I think we executed our plans really well, especially after losing those two wickets up front. I really enjoyed batting with her, she definitely made me calm down a bit when I was close to my 50. I was a little bit nervous there, especially coming back into the side (after a long while), but it was really fun batting with her. I remember I was on 48 (runs) and she just said to me to work really hard on the two.  We were really trying to spur one another on and knowing that there was someone out there trying to work through the same rough patches as you were was nice.”

The hosts find themselves on the brink of another series win if they can successfully clinch Thursday’s fixture. Steyn is confident that they have what it takes to do so and have learned a lot of lessons from the first match that they can take into the remainder of the series.

“I think if we stick to our processes we won’t have to worry too much about what the conditions are or what the weather is. We saw in the first match when we batted that it wasn’t so much about the hard drives up front, but more about finding a way to rotate the strike and find those ones and twos. The bowlers would have found what works for them as well and we all know that when it comes to fielding, there’s always room for improvement. But all in all, we’re very happy with the direction we’re headed in and we are looking forward to Thursday,” she concluded.