Van Niekerk keen to experiment


South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk is open to trying out some new combinations in her team’s last match of the preliminary league which ends on Monday.

That will be when the Super Six teams are decided in the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2017.

Van Niekerk said: “We may make a few changes as we want to keep our bowlers fresh. We are building up a momentum and getting better and better but there are small things that we need to tweak, probably get the top order to bat longer. The big goal is to qualify and we are not thinking of winning the competition as yet.”

Group B favourite South Africa has notched three straight wins to ensure it is through to the Super Six stage and plays Papua New Guinea in its last league match.

All teams making the Super Six will be assured of ODI berths for the next four-year cycle while the top four teams will qualify for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 as well as the ICC Women’s Championship.

Pakistan and Bangladesh are the other teams set to qualify from Group B as they have two wins each and the scenario can change and net run-rate equations come into the picture only if Scotland pulls off a big upset win against Pakistan on Monday.

In Group A, India is through with three wins and a match to go against Zimbabwe. Sri Lanka and Ireland are the other teams set to go through unless there is the unlikely scenario of both Zimbabwe upsetting India and Sri Lanka losing to Thailand in which case all three teams will be with two wins each and the qualifiers decided on calculations.

Van Diekerk feels her team has settled well and the bowling attack gives her many choices which may be tried since her team is in a solid position.

“We have a lot of options in bowling. Sune Luus (leg-spinner) struggled a bit in the earlier game with her line and length but came back with a bang against Bangladesh (three for 17). We have a formidable opening combination (Shabnim Ismail and Marizanne Kapp) and Ayabonga Khaka who comes in as first change. There are also some other possible combinations so I really think I’m spoilt for choice,” she said.

Though the 23-year-old all-rounder van Diekerk, who herself bowls leg-spin to go with her batting, is happy with the way her team has settled, she is cautious when it comes to playing teams from the sub-continent.

“I don’t think we are at par with them in these conditions even though we’ve settled well. They just know the tricks of the trade. They know what to do, when to do them and we are still learning. India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are all good in these conditions. Even Bangladesh for that matter… we had our hearts in our mouths in the last match when they came back very well,” she said.

South Africa had defeated Bangladesh by six wickets on Saturday but lost more wickets than expected since they were chasing a target of only 101.

“That win was not as comprehensive as we wanted. We know where we erred and are trying to rectify that,” she said.

The South Africa captain though is positive going ahead.

“Finding the lines and lengths is awesome but at the end of the day we have to stick to our plans. So far it’s been working. We don’t underestimate any team, any team can beat any team. We know we are going to get challenges going forward, but we have our plans and hope they will come off.”

Teams making the Super Six stage will carry points gained against other teams that advance from their group. In the Super Six, they will play qualifiers from the other group, with the four top teams decided at the end of this stage. The top two teams will play the final on 21 February.