Van Niekerk admits to 'panic' after SA crash to Windies
There was no half-century for Chloe Tryon in her 50th T20‚ not a lot of runs from anyone and no justice for an attack that‚ not for the first time‚ bowled their hearts out.
Consequently there is the certainty that South Africa will have to bat exponentially better than they did against West Indies in St Lucia on Thursday if they want to stay alive in the World T20.
Having held the Windies to 107/7‚ South Africa had a chance to go top of group A.
Instead they crashed to 76 all out to lose by 31 runs to dwindle to fourth place out of five sides — and to leave their hopes of reaching the semi-finals hanging by a couple of threads.
If they don’t beat England and Bangladesh in their remaining first-round games‚ they go home. If they do win those matches‚ all sorts of outcomes are possible in a group that remains unsettled.
South Africa won’t beat anyone if they bat like they did on Thursday‚ when they lost nine wickets for 28 runs and the last five of those scalps for a solitary run.
They were 41/1 in the 10th over and dismissed 8.4 overs later‚ and they suffered three runouts along the way.
What the hell happened‚ Dané van Niekerk?
“I guess panic‚ I don’t know‚” South Africa’s captain told reporters in St Lucia. “Sometimes we just find a way to make it quite difficult for ourselves.
“I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what the thinking was. We spoke about having wickets in hand — we saw the bulk of the runs being scored at the end [of West Indies innings‚ when more than half the total was scored in the last eight overs].
“I thought that was the thinking of the batters in the middle — keep steady‚ keep rotating the strike and we’ll try win the game in the 19th over.
“I thought that was the thinking. But it looks like panic stations.”
Van Niekerk‚ who isn’t at all good at not telling us what she really thinks‚ seemed at a loss to explain it all.
“We’ve got a very good batting line-up. From No. 1 to 8‚ they can take the game away from you.
“We got ourselves into trouble early‚ bogging ourselves down. We played catch-up [cricket] with a lot of very soft dismissals.
“We just panicked and did stuff that some of the batters wouldn’t generally do.” How to fix it?
“We need to bat. If you want to win a World Cup you need to chase down 108 convincingly. We didn’t do that.
“We need to do some introspection as batters and find out where we’re going wrong. Since the warm-ups we’ve been struggling to get to 100.”
South Africa stumbled to 79/9 in a warm-up against Australia and 72/9 against Pakistan‚ and things might well have turned out differently had the bowlers not limited Sri Lanka to 99/8 in their first match of the tournament on Tuesday — when they won by seven wickets with nine balls remaining.
Something similar seemed on the cards on Thursday‚ what with Shabnim Ismail screaming in with a gale blowing at her back to take 3/12 and Van Niekerk claiming 2/8 from three overs.
But Tuesday’s script was torn up‚ leaving South Africa under no illusions about what they are up against.
“We need to beat England and Bangladesh to give us the best chance to go through‚” Van Niekerk said.
“It’s really plain and simple for us.”
Like many captains before her‚ she resorted to‚ “The sun’s going to shine tomorrow anyway …”
Then she remembered the days of rain that have turned the island into a floating bog‚ and said with a smile: “Let’s hope so‚ St Lucia.”
Where there’s humour‚ there’s hope.
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