Lizelle Lee scored an undefeated 92 off 128 balls (11×4, 2×6) to guide the Proteas Women to a comfortable win over their arch-rivals, the England Women’s team, in the first ODI at Worcester
Lee scored the winning runs by going down on one knee to sweep the experienced Laura Marsh over square leg for six.
Lee received tremendous support from skipper Dane van Niekerk, who scored a power-packed 58 off 79 balls (10×4, 1×6), as well as Mignon du Preez, who also ended undefeated on 36 off 57 balls (5×4).
The comfortable victory seemed pre-ordained from earlier in the afternoon when South Africa reduced their hosts to 97-8 off 34.3 overs, before number seven bat Katherine Brunt put in a career-best effort with the bat to guide the lower order through the rest of their innings to post a relatively competitive total of 189.
Brunt then struck early with the ball when the Proteas went in to bat, forcing award-winning opener Laura Wolvaardt to play onto her stumps with her score on two. Sune Luus was gone for a duck in the flash of an eye when medium-pace opener Anya Shrubsole drifted one down the legside. Luus fell forward in attempting to flick the ball down towards fine leg, her back leg pulling out of the crease and, before she could ground her bat, England’s keeper Sarah Taylor had taken the ball one-handed down the legside and whipped the bails off. Luus was gone for a duck, and the Proteas were 2-5 and it looked like the balance of power had well and truly swung England’s way.
Undaunted, Lee and captain Van Niekerk took the game by the scruff of the neck, putting together 113 for the third wicket before Van Niekerk was deceived by a slower delivery from Shrubsole that she slipped out the back of her hand to rattle Van Niekerk’s stumps. Lee and Du Preez still had plenty of work to do, and Lee had a let-off with her score on 68 (and Du Preez on 2) when Brunt dived forward superbly to catch a lofted drive down to mid-off. Lee was walking off the pitch when called back by the third umpire who spotted that the ball had touched grass as Brunt lurched forward in an attempt to catch the South African opener.
The pair took advantage of the let-off to take the Proteas to a comfortable win with time to spare, adding 75 runs for the fourth wicket to give South Africa a 1-0 lead in the series
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