Van Niekerk’s maiden century gives South Africa early lead

Van Niekerk’s maiden century gives South Africa early lead

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SRI LANKA WOMEN TOUR OF SOUTH AFRICA, 2019

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Niekerk finished with 107 off 115 balls - hitting five fours and one six  Van Niekerk’s maiden century gives South Africa early lead prv 1549907583

Niekerk finished with 107 off 115 balls – hitting five fours and one six © Getty

Dane van Niekerk scored an impressive 102 and followed her maiden ODI century with two crucial wickets as South Africa eked out a seven-run win over Sri Lanka in the rain-truncated opening one-dayer at Potchefstroom. Van Niekerk’s efforts with thet bat took the hosts to 225/7, a total Sri Lanka looked well in control of overhauling until some late harakiri foiled their chances to get this ICC Championship series to a stunning start.

Shashikala Siriwardene appeared to have decisively turned this 48-overs-a-side contest in her side’s favour through her innings of 49 until calamity struck in the 41st over with the visitors needing little over a run-a-ball. Masabata Klaas had the experienced Siriwardene caught by Faye Tunnicliffe. Then Sri Lanka imploded. From 176/5 they quickly slipped to 196/9, a sequence that included two run-outs and a hit-wicket dismissal for Oshadi Ranasinghe.

Nilakshi de Silva took the chase until the final over with a brisk 39 but ran out of partners as South Africa ran away winners by seven runs.

It was a case of so near yet so far for Sri Lanka on a day when the clouds aligned in place to even the seemingly large gap in the skill levels of the two sides. The start of the game was delayed by rain and Chamari Athapaththu won an important toss and elected to field. By 10 overs the hosts managed only 29 runs and had two batters – Laura Woolvardt and Lara Goodall – back in the shed.

Captain van Niekerk joined Andrie Steyn for a rebuidling job and the pair put on 117 for the third wicket before the latter was dismissed LBW by Inoka Ranaweera. South Africa struggled for momentum thereafter as wickets kept tumbling from one end even as van Niekerk kept the scoreboard ticking over. She completed her century off 114 deliveries having hit five fours and a six but departed soon after, but not before she’d given her team a little cushion of a par total.

The visitors began with a 57-run opening stand, but van Niekerk was once again on hand to bring her team back into the game. She dismissed Anushka Sanjeewani and Athapaththu in quick succession and then completed a sharp catch to Harshitha Madavi thereafter. Sri Lanka still needed just one partnership, one middle-order batter to stay with Siriwardene to close out the game, but as it turned out, no one was conditioned for that level of resonsibility.

Brief scores: South Africa Women 225/7 in 48 overs (Dane van Niekerk 102, Andrie Steyn 75; Oshadi Ranashinge 3-40) beat Sri Lanka Women 218/9 in 48 overs (Shashikala Siriwardene 49, Prasadani Weerakkody 47; Masabata Klaas 3-46) by 7 runs

© Cricbuzz

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