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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Under dogs South Africa to keep calm in final vs Aus

Under dogs South Africa to keep calm in final vs Aus

Last updated on: February 25, 2023 21:58 IST
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South Africa's Anneke Bosch celebrates the wicket of England's Amy Jones

IMAGE: South Africa's Anneke Bosch celebrates the wicket of England's Amy Jones. South Africa captain Sune Luus trusts her pace attack to come good in the Women's T20 final against Australia on Sunday. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Whatever the result in Sunday’s Women’s Twenty20 World Cup final against powerhouse Australia, South Africa captain Sune Luus says the team already feel like winners having become the first side from the country to reach a global final.

South Africa will be outright underdogs against the five-time champions, despite having a strong bowling line-up and the home ground advantage at what is likely to be a sold-out Newlands in Cape Town.

 

But having stunned England in a tense semi-final on Friday, Luus believes they laid down a marker for women’s cricket in the country from which they can grow.

"We are achieving our goals, we wanted to inspire a nation and put women’s cricket on the map, to get young boys and girls to pick up a bat and ball. Hopefully tomorrow is just another step in that," Luus told reporters on Saturday.

"We never thought people in our country would stand in long queues to buy tickets for a women’s cricket match. It is something special. I hope once this World Cup is finished, that will stay the same.

"There are a lot of good things to come out of this tournament. If people don’t take women’s cricket seriously by now, then there is no hope."

South Africa had been to five previous World Cup semi-finals across all formats without success, but now stand on the brink of a career-defining moment for what is largely a young group of players.

Their bowling effort has been spearheaded by the pace quartet of Shabnim Ismail, who bowled the fastest ball ever recorded in women's cricket in the semi-final on Friday at 128 kph, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka and Nadine de Klerk.

Luus said that in the final staying focused and not letting the occasion get to them would be crucial.

"We have always known we have the ability to be in the final, it was just to break the semi-final curse," she says.

"For us it is to stay calm and focus on what we do best. We need to trust our skills and abilities."

South Africa have lost all six previous T20 meetings with Australia, including a six-wicket defeat in the pool stages of this competition when they clashed in Gqeberha.

"We were 20-30 runs short in that game," Luus says.

"Australia bat extremely deep. Whether we bat or bowl first, we have to put up a big fight, we have to take it as deep as possible.

"Our pace attack is one of our strongest (attributes). Australia know what’s coming. It will be an even contest between one of the best batting lineups in the world and one of the best bowling attacks."

'We are expecting them to come out and play to their full strength and they are riding a wave of emotion as well'

Favourites Australia must stick to the basics and trust their skills in Sunday’s Women’s Twenty20 World Cup final against South Africa, captain Meg Lanning said as they prepare to face a home side riding a wave of emotion.

Five-time winners Australia survived a nervy semi-final against India, when Lanning admits they were not at their best, and a fired-up South Africa, playing their first ever final, will be keen to exploit any drop in performance.

"There is pressure on everyone, it is a World Cup final, there are no guarantees," Lanning told reporters on Saturday.

"It is about what happens on the day. South Africa have been playing some good cricket. If you get to a World Cup final you have beaten some good teams.

"We are expecting them to come out and play to their full strength and they are riding a wave of emotion as well. We are prepared for that. It is about executing as best you can.

"It is going to be an incredible atmosphere and a great game at an amazing venue, one of the best I have ever been to. So we are pumped, we can’t wait to get out there and play."

Australia have won all six of their previous meetings with South Africa, including a comfortable six-wicket victory earlier in the tournament.

With a number of South African players having featured in the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia, there will be little mystery between the two sides.

"We have played some really close games over the years and come out on top, but we have been pushed a long way," Lanning says.

"We are expecting a tight contest, we know them really well, as they do us.

"We have played alongside some of their players in the various (global T20) competitions. There is nowhere to hide, everybody knows what’s coming - it is just about holding your nerve under the pressure of a World Cup final.

"There will be moments when South Africa will be on top and will have the crowd behind them. We accept that it will happen, but when we get the chance to put our footprint on the game, we have to make sure we do that."

Australia have won the last two World Cup finals. Their only defeat in the decider came against the West Indies in Kolkata in 2016.

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