South Africa vs West Indies Preview: Familiar opponents await West Indies

West Indies (L) face South Africa (R) in their final group fixture © Getty Images

West Indies started the World Cup with two thrilling wins to announce themselves as one of the contenders for the knockout stages. However, after their victories against the hosts New Zealand and defending champions England, they have struggled to maintain consistency and only just got out of jail against newcomers Bangladesh to register their third two-pointer.

West Indies will take on South Africa in their final fixture of the World Cup 2022 at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on Thursday (March 24).

What’s at stake

Despite their three wins – all of them were close ones, the big defeats against India and Australia meant West Indies’ Net Run Rate (NRR) has taken a pounding. That wouldn’t have been a worry until the Pakistan game, but the unexpected loss in that match has put them in must-win territory against South Africa. While even a win wouldn’t guarantee them a place in the semis, going down won’t be an option for that will be the end of their campaign.

On the other hand, South Africa suffered their first loss of the tournament when the all-conquering Australia made light work of a big chase thanks to Meg Lanning. With two matches left to play, the Rainbow Nation might want to seal the semi-final spot on Thursday itself without taking it to the final group fixture against India.

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Over-reliance on pacers and Laura Wolvaardt

Going into the World Cup, South Africa’s consistent run in the cup cycle (2018-2021) gave them the tag of one of the favourites. They had a fairly settled playing XI and enough ammunition to threaten top sides in the world. However, there seem to be some missing puzzles with batters other than Laura Wolvaardt and Sune Luus failing to come to the party.

The pace-bowling trio of Marizanne Kapp, Shabnim Ismail, and Ayabonga Khaka has been their star performers through the tournament. Khaka and Ismail were instrumental in the first two games, while Kapp’s all-round efforts took them over the line against England and New Zealand.

Once the bowling and fielding came a cropper in the Australia fixture, South Africa had no answers. They will be looking towards the experienced batters Lizelle Lee and Mignon du Preez to ease the burden on Wolvaardt. In the absence of Masabata Klaas, backup bowling options will be another worry for the Proteas and Luus will have to take up more responsibility with the ball.

Onus on big three

Once again the responsibility of taking West Indies through will fall on the shoulders of their three big stars – Deandra Dottin, Hayley Matthews, and Stafanie Taylor. Matthews has won them two games with two career-best performances – one with the bat and one with the ball, and Dottin did well in patches.

Despite her eye-popping efforts – bowling the last over against New Zealand, taking an acrobatic catch, and playing some audacious shots, West Indies will be hoping for more from Dottin. Skipper Taylor, on the other hand, has had a disappointing tournament so far with the bat. Although she contributed with the ball in the Bangladesh win, the allrounder has been reluctant to bowl herself, which was noticeable when they went down against Pakistan.

Shemain Campbelle saved the day with the bat twice, but West Indies need their big three to come good if they have to compete against a side like South Africa.

Players to watch out for:

Sune Luus: South Africa skipper has stepped up admirably in the absence of Dane van Niekerk. Luus has had a good tournament so far with the bat, having scored 226 runs at an average of 45.20. But they will be hoping for the allrounder to do more with the ball to support their pace battery in good batting conditions.

Deandra Dottin: The big-hitting allrounder’s decision to take charge of proceedings and bowl the last over against New Zealand gave West Indies a win in the tournament opener. Then she pulled off a stunning catch at point against England, and in the India match, she braved back pain and kept Windies in the game until she was there at the crease. Despite all this, Dottin must be disappointed with her returns so far in the tournament. It remains to be seen if she can take down South Africa come Thursday.

What they said:

“I think Laura’s world-class. I know she always measures herself, up towards, you know, like a Meg Lanning or some of the greater batters in the world, Suzie Bates, and all those kinds of players, but I think she’s up there as well. You always have to remember she’s only 22 and she’s breaking records already. I think she’s been phenomenal and she’s been the glue to our batting line-up,”

Sune Luus on Laura Wolvaardt’s consistency.

“It’s really difficult, especially as a bowler that you have to go out and defend small totals, but hopefully tomorrow we’ll have all the batters showing up to the party and putting runs on the board. We know that some players have performed and some haven’t, so runs are due from some of the other players and we’re hoping that tomorrow will be the day,”

Anisa Mohammed on the indifferent form of West Indies batters.

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Numbers:

Head to head: Played 32 matches, South Africa 16 – 10 West Indies; 3/3 Tie/No Result

  • Laura Wolvaardt is the only South Africa batter to score an ODI century against West Indies. Her feat came in the third ODI of the series they played last month in Johannesburg.
  • Stafanie Taylor has taken 21 wickets at an average of 22.04 and an economy rate of 3.33 in the 21 matches she played against South Africa.

Predicted XI:

South Africa: Lizelle Lee, Laura Wolvaardt, Lara Goodall, Sune Luus (c), Mignon du Preez, Marizanne Kapp, Chloe Tryon, Trisha Chetty (wk), Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka, Nkululeko Mlaba

West Indies:  Deandra Dottin,  Hayley Matthews,  Rashada Williams,  Stafanie Taylor (c)  Shemaine Campbell (wk), Chedean Nation, Chinelle Henry, Afy Fletcher, Anisa Mohammed, Shakera Selman,  Karishma Ramharack