South Africa go 1-0 up thanks to spinners, Lizelle Lee

Lizelle Lee smashes the ball through the off side. ©ICC

South Africa opener Lizelle Lee is on a roll in international cricket. In ODIs, she’s on a run-scoring spree. She scored her 21st ODI half century on Wednesday (September 7), which was her third successive fifty-plus score in the format. In fact, in her last six ODIs, Lee has scored fifty or more – including a hundred – in five matches.

Lee’s unbeaten knock after the South African spinners stifled and restricted the West Indies batters helped the tourists register an eight-wicket win at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua in the first ODI of the five-match series.

South Africa’s pursuit of the 154-run target began with Laura Wolvaardt hitting successive fours off Aaliyah Alleyne in the very first over. Lee then hit another one in Alleyne’s next over. A short ball from Chinelle Henry was then pulled through square leg for a four, before the bowler over-corrected her length in her next over, only to be flicked through mid-wicket and sqyare leg off successive balls.

With the Proteas having a sound start, West Indies captain Anisa Mohammed had to look to spin as early as in the sixth over. Lee and Wolvaardt, who had two hundred-run opening partnerships against India earlier in the year, crossed 50 yet again when the latter drove Mohammed through covers.

However, the veteran Windies spinner then dismissed Wolvaardt for 36, with the Protea batter attempting to play it to the on side and missed. That ended the opening stand which was worth 88. In the very next over, Qiana Joseph trapped Sune Luus in front of the stumps for one.

Lee, though, was progressing confidently at the other end. With Dane van Niekerk for company, she focused on rotating the strike and helped the tourist inch closer. Karishma Ramharack slipped in a couple of maidens in the phase. In the interim, though, Lee completed her half century in 76 balls.

Van Niekerk then swept Hayley Matthews through square leg to break the shackles. Ramharack was hit for a massive six over deep mid-wicket by Lee then. Back-to-back fours off Mohammed by Lee then helped South Africa get to 150. The South African opener finished unbeaten on 91 off 127 balls, while captain van Niekerk hit the winning runs to end not out on 17 off 40 balls.

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Earlier, after opting to bat first, West Indies openers Matthews and Kyshona Knight were kept quiet by the South African new bowling pair of Marizanne Kapp and Shabnim Ismail. The former reaped rewards for her consistency and ability, sucking Kyshona into a drive which resulted in an inside edge on to her stumps for four.

Soon, Matthews fell for five when Lee took a smart, diving catch at point. That brought Britney Cooper and Deandra Dottin together in the middle with West Indies’ score reading two for 12 after ten overs.

Dottin made her intentions clear, hitting Ayabonga Khaka for back-to-back boundaries just before the drinks. In the very next over, 18 runs were plundered off a Tumi Sekhukhune over with Dottin hitting three fours. The West Indies vice-captain raced to 26 off just 20 balls at that point and seemed to be batting on another level.

Dottin then proceeded to hit Ismail for a couple of fours in a over as well. However introduction of spin applied the brakes. Luus managed to trap Dottin in front of the stumps for 38 off 36 balls. That ended the best batting phase for the hosts as well as the 58-urn stand between Dottin and Cooper.

Kycia Knight then walked out and was milking singles against the leg-spin duo of Luus and van Niekerk. But Cooper had to retire hurt on 26, appearing to be struggling with cramps and the heat. Van Niekerk then dismissed Chedean Nation LBW for five.

From 105 for three, West Indies steadily lost wickets from an end, even as Kycia kept the scoreboard moving. The left-hand batter took her time and and scored 39 before she was run out. The hosts were restricted to 153 for nine, with Cooper unavailable to bat.

Van Niekerk, Khaka and Sekhukhune picked two wickets each for South Africa.

Brief Scores: West Indies 153 all out in 46.4 overs (Kycia Knight 39, Deandra Dottin 38; Ayabonga Khaka 2/17, Dane van Niekerk 2/23, Tumi Sekhukhune 2/32) lost to South Africa 157/2 in 39.3 overs (Lizelle Lee 91*) by eight wickets