‘World Cup nerves’ played a role in Proteas’ opener, coach praises Khaka

The Proteas women are aiming to keep improving as the World Cup continues after being pushed hard on Saturday by a match from Bangladesh in their opening tournament win.

With the Proteas, the second-ranked ODI side in the world, they were expected to make easy work of the sixth-ranked Bangladesh team to make their World Cup debut.

However, it came closer than expected, with the Proteas eventually taking a 32-point win to ensure they started on a positive note.

Coach Hilton Moreeng is not concerned about performance, especially the batters after struggling to get a good score, and believes they will grow in the league.

“It’s not a concern, but more of a frustration because we know what these players are capable of. It’s an area that we’ve identified and are working on to make sure we improve,” Moreeng explained of the batting.

“Your first World Cup game is always difficult and I think there was a little bit of nerves. But the most important thing was to get the job done and now we can work on and improve where we struggled.

“We’ve been playing a positive kind of cricket lately, but in this match we were a bit on the sloppy side and I think once the nerves started to calm down, we got back into the game.”

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After Bangladesh got off to a good start in their pursuit, the Proteas were grateful to give bowler Ayabonga Khaka the pace, who then stepped in and took the first three wickets, eventually finishing as the player of the match with stunning 4/32 figures in her 10 overs.

“Ayabonga is a perfect fit for this bowling attack and is one of our unsung heroes. It doesn’t matter what surface she bowls on, she can adapt. We are very proud of her achievement and she deserves all the credit,” said Moreeng.

A boost for the team ahead of their second game against Pakistan on Friday could be the return of batter Lizelle Lee, the current ICC Women’s ODI batter of the year, who is out of quarantine and available for selection due to family commitments.

“It’s a World Cup, so if we feel she’s ready, she’ll play,” Moreeng admitted.

“She has been training in between the time she is home with her family and we will assess how she is doing during the week. Knowing the player she is, she is a very competitive cricketer and will want to jump right back in.”

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