Photo Credit: ICC
South Africa captain Sune Luus heralded matchwinner Marizanne Kapp’s “nerves of steel” as the imperious all-rounder helped her side to a thrilling two-wicket win over New Zealand.
Kapp’s vital unbeaten 34 from 35 balls dragged her side over the line after they had come close to throwing away a winning position by losing six wickets for 56 in pursuit of 229.
The 32-year-old took two for 44 from her 10 overs as, despite skipper Sophie Devine’s valiant 93, the hosts were bundled out for a below-par 228 which ultimately cost them as the chase went down to the final over in Hamilton.
It was Kapp’s second straight Player of the Match award after making 32 and taking five for 45 against England and another complete display left her captain in awe of her composure.
“I think Marizanne has nerves of steel,” said Luus, after making 51 and sharing a third-wicket stand of 88 with opener Laura Wolvaardt, whose 67 laid the platform for the successful chase.
“She definitely takes it better than all of us could, so I think she is the right person for that time of the game.
“She has a lot of experience from playing all around the world in different kinds of situations. She is a very calm head, especially in situations like that.
“She’s showing us all how to stay calm, how to back your own skills and how to finish the game off.”
Kapp ensured she was on strike for the final over and after smoking a boundary off Frances Mackay’s first ball, she nudged a single to draw the scores level allowing Ayabonga Khaka to scramble through for the winning run with three balls to spare.
The Proteas have helped themselves to four straight wins and are in all likelihood one more victory away from securing their semi-final spot with fellow unbeaten side Australia their next opponents on Tuesday.
But after three nail-biting victories in succession, Kapp joked she is desperate to avoid any more pulsating finishes.
She said: “These [close] games have to stop now! I’m tired! Again it was a team effort, again we weren’t at our best but I believe the perfect game is around the corner.
“I think we probably bowled a little bit better against England, to be honest, but we got away with it today and I know our batters have been struggling but I back them to come back stronger.
“I’m always nervous, I’m not going to lie. They [Wolvaardt and Luus] batted brilliantly again today, but you can’t get too relaxed as you saw the game can change just like that and luckily we got away with the win.”
After hauling themselves back into the contest, largely through the impressive leg-spin bowling of Amelia Kerr who claimed three for 50, it was an agonising defeat for the tournament hosts New Zealand.
The White Ferns can afford no further slip-ups after winning only two of their five games and go into Sunday’s must-win clash against England knowing the loser will make an early exit.
Captain Devine insisted there is still lots of fight left in her side and plenty of positives for them to take as they look to avoid a “miserable” dressing room after suffering back-to-back defeats following the 141-run reverse to Australia.
“There were a lot of conversations about how we wanted to bowl to the tailenders and how we wanted to keep Kapp off strike,” explained Devine.
“You can find a million different ways to do things but it is heartbreaking to not get across the line there. But our tournament is certainly not over yet and it’s another learning curve for us.
“If we are honest, we were probably 30-40 runs short with the bat. Then the way we scrapped back, the way Amelia [Kerr] bowled through the middle swung momentum back in our favour.
“We clawed our way back and we have to focus on the positives because if we dwell too long on the negatives or what we could have done differently then it is going to be a pretty miserable dressing room.”