Van Niekerk wary of Pakistan’s improvement

Pakistan have brought renewed energy to the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup and their notable improvement hasn’t been lost on South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk.

  • South Africa are looking to maintain their perfect record in Group B
  • A tough test awaits against a Pakistan side that beat West Indies in their opener
  • Pakistan captain Bismah Maroof has been ruled out through injury

The Proteas sit with two wins from two atop Group B but their bid for perfection won’t be easy, with Pakistan already overcoming West Indies in the competition so far.

Great strides have been made by the Asian team since the last edition two years ago – and with a semi-final spot on the line, Van Niekerk knows her side can’t take anything for granted in Sydney.

“I said to Lizelle [Lee] when we walked in to the stadium, they’ve got a skip in their step, they look like a very energetic team, they look ready,” said the skipper.

“You can feel the energy popping off them and I got excited for the game against them as I know it will be hard fought.

“We know how good Pakistan are, especially in ICC tournaments. They’re one of those teams that you know it brings out the best in them.

“We are definitely not going to take not even one over lightly against them. I think it will be a difficult game.

“It was nice to see where they’ve gone since we played them at home and again they’ve improved massively as a team. It’s definitely back to the drawing board to try and sort our plans before we get into Sydney.”

Pakistan’s bid for a second win in Australia was dealt a blow after their loss to England, with captain Bismah Maroof ruled out of the tournament after suffering a fracture in her right thumb.

Javeria Khan, who captained in the Women’s T20 World Cup two years ago, will lead the team once again while Nahida Khan comes in as the injury replacement.

Pakistan will need to be ready from the off against the Proteas, whose 195 for three last time out against Thailand was the highest score in Women’s T20 World Cup history.

But Aiman Anwar, who has five wickets in two Group B matches to date, feels their new-found belief means another big performance is far from out of the question at the Sydney Showground.

“We will look forward to restricting South Africa if they bat first,” she said. “Even if they score well, we have the ability to put runs on the board.

“We have chased 160+ against West Indies in Karachi, we want to play good matches.

“We had some good momentum, we unfortunately couldn’t carry that on after the loss against England but we are looking to get that back against South Africa and Thailand.

“Our spinners have been doing well, they’ve won a lot of matches for us and we’ll see if that can happen again.

“I truly believe we are getting better, we have beaten teams that are ranked higher than us so were are positive, we have good intent, and I think this World Cup is open for any team.”

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