West Indies continue to struggle as South Africa look to wrap up the series

© Cricket West Indies

When West Indies reached their first-ever World Cup final in 2013, they had to beat the likes of South Africa, New Zealand, and the tournament favorites Australia in Super Sixes after winning only one league match to be there. They followed it by becoming the fourth team to qualify for the 2017 World Cup after Australia, England, and New Zealand. South Africa’s road to the World Cup was more challenging as they had to go through the qualifying tournament. It seems like these two teams have exchanged fate since their clash against each other in the 2017 World Cup, where West Indies were bowled out for 48 runs.

Coming to the present, West Indies have now lost four ODIs in a row which includes two matches against Pakistan in July 2021. A common thread among these losses has been the batting collapse, which was yet again on display in the second ODI against South Africa. The highest partnership they could manage in the match was between Kycia Knight and Chedean Nation with them contributing 31 runs for the fourth wicket. If West Indies are to pose any significant challenge to South Africa, at least one of the top three batters needs to stay at the crease till 30th over.

West Indies bowlers have been clueless against South Africa’s openers in this series. Lizelle Lee blasted them all over the park in the first match to score an unbeaten 91 and Laura Wolvaardt was unstoppable in the second game. West Indies are missing the tactics of their experienced captain Stafanie Taylor, but they do have an opportunity to shape their bowling unit ahead of the World Cup Qualifiers in November. Hayley Matthews has been economical throughout the series, but she needs support from the other end.

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On the other hand, South Africa are proving that they are a well-oiled machine that can win matches in any condition. The return of Shabnim Ismail has added firepower to their already intimidating fast bowling unit. Ismail and Marizanne Kapp along with captain Dane van Niekerk and experienced campaigner Sune Luss form the core of the bowling unit for the visitors around which the team management still has room for experiments. With still three ODIs left to play and South Africa might make some changes to manage the workload of players.

South Africa’s batting has been exceptional in this series. Openers Lee and Wolvaardt were able to give them a solid start in both the matches. Wolvaardt’s classy half-century in the second game – her 20th in the format to go along with two centuries – has consolidated her place as one of the best players in the world. South Africa’s middle order has not been tested in this series yet, and if West Indies manages to send openers back early, the home side might get an opportunity to run through the visitors.

South Africa are clear favorites to win the match and the series at the Coolidge Cricket Ground before the battleground shifts to Sir Vivian Richards Stadium for the final two matches of the series, but West Indies are capable of upsets as they have proved it over time. Will visitors bag the series tomorrow or the home side will put breaks to South Africa’s juggernaut? We will find out come Monday.

Squads

West Indies: Anisa Mohammed (C), Deandra Dottin (VC), Aaliyah Alleyne, Britney Cooper, Shamilia Connell, Shabika Gajnabi, Chinelle Henry, Qiana Joseph, Kycia Knight, Kyshona Knight, Hayley Matthews, Chedean Nation, Karishma Ramharack

South Africa: Dane van Niekerk (C), Sune Luus, Ayabonga Khaka, Shabnim Ismail, Laura Wolvaardt, Trisha Chetty, Sinalo Jafta,Tasmin Britz, Marizanne Kapp, Nondumiso Shangase, Lizelle Lee, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Mignon du Preez, Chloe Tryon, Nadine de Klerk, Lara Goodall, Tumi Sekhukhune, Masabata Klaas