Before they entered the tournament, they said they wanted to create some “Madiba Magic.” Even before the tournament enters the semis stage, it can be said with surety, that Proteas Women are already creating some. It’s a magic to which the entire Rainbow Nation may wish to dance with uncontrollable excitement. Never before in the history of Women’s World T20 contests has a team managed to reach the famous albeit daunting 200-run total. The Proteas Women- in their humbling of their Thai counterparts by a 113-run margin- missed that mark by just 5 runs.
But in doing so, they succeeded in a stellar table-topping effort for scoring most runs in a Women’s T20 World cup encounter, bettering none other than Harmanpreet Kaur’s India, who had piled on 194 against the White Ferns (during World T20, 2018).
Now India’s stellar effort against the dominant White Ferns in 2018, in the Caribbean, was itself a great feat. Bu how thrilled- one can wonder- would the South Africans be at having bettered a record set by a team that’s currently the first to enter the semis stage of this competition?
In a tournament where the Proteas Women are thus far, undefeated having won 2 in 2 games, one can only expect further magic to inspire the team with games against West Indies and Pakistan lying ahead.
But implicit in the Dane van Niekerk’s side’s thumping win there were other feats, not merely the enormity of their of the margin of win. Allowing no chance whatsoever for the competitors to bounce back after the most economical Thai bowler of the day- Padunglerd- got the captain early, it was Lizelle Lee and Sune Luus all the way.
A fantastic, record-breaking stand of 131-runs between the big-hitting opener and the leg-spinning all-rounder kept Thailand clueless and the Proteas Women as the big dictators at Canberra.
In a format where a hundred notched up by any talent is, indeed a special feat, imagine the importance of a T20 ton fired by one of the game’s best, one who’d been searching for it in a seven-year run?
Lizelle Lee left little to the imagination as she clubbed Thai bowlers to all parts of Canberra’s notching up a fiery hundred checkered by 16 fours and 3 boundaries.
A maiden ton is always special, more so when it comes in the game’s briefest format, and even more so when it comes to cricket’s most elite competition- right?
One can only imagine what might have happened had the destructive Protea carried on, before offering a regulation catch soon after she raised her ton at the end of the 16th over.
But make no mistake. Sune Luus- the ever adaptable right-hander- stormed to her fourth T20 fifty, dealing pace and spin with measure and power, offering the treatment you expect from a cerebral mind of the sport.
Then there was the big-hitting Chloe Tryon, who before being castled by the amazing Chandia Sutthiruang had exhibited what was expected, knowing her powers of destruction: 2 sixes in her 11-ball-24.
Yet, at the same time, what curtailed South Africa’s seemingly easy journey to 200- the way they were going collecting 144 runs from just 16 overs- was the phenomenal final over by Thailand’s most regarded medium-pacer.
Conceding no more than just 8 in her 3rd and the inning’s 20th over, the 26-year-old, much to the relief of her team, in an embarrassing bowling performance, kept the Proteas Women under 200.
You didn’t have to be an Einstein to understand that an ask of nearly 10-an-over with Thailand- playing not only the Proteas Women for the first time but also contesting in their first T20 World Cup- was never going to be easy.
And so it wasn’t. But in a tournament where the Thai talents would love to draw valuable experience of playing some of the biggest sides around, one mustn’t turn a blind eye from the little positives.
And if one wonders could there be any in an embarrassing 113-run loss, then look no further than the extras column: the Thai bowlers gave only 4 runs to South Africa. The experienced Ratanaporn Padunglerd- 36 T20s against her name- conceded only 19 from her 3 overs.