GROS ISLET, St Lucia – Reigning champions West Indies will be keeping anxious watch on the skies as they bid to return to the top of Group A, when they face South Africa in a highly anticipated clash of the ICC Women’s Twenty20 World Cup tomorrow night.
The hosts easily disposed of Bangladesh in their opening match last Friday in Georgetown and a second straight win will see them leapfrog England back into the top spot, as they chase qualification for the semi-finals.
However, heavy rain over the last week have put the games at the Darren Sammy Cricket Stadium in jeopardy and resulted in the England/Sri Lanka fixture being rained off without a ball bowled last Saturday.
With the tropical wave still lingering in the area, showers have been forecast for Wednesday but veteran off-spinner and former vice-captain Anisa Mohammed said West Indies were prepared for whatever eventuality they faced.
“Conditions are something that is beyond our control. When we get here tomorrow, there maybe some changes, they may not – it all depends on the weather,” said Mohammed, who will play her 100th T20 International once she suits up on for the game.
“Like I said, that’s something we can’t determine at the moment but we’re prepared. We know the rain has been around quite a lot and whatever happens, as a team we know what is required of us in whatever situation we face [on Wednesday].”
West Indies will be hoping to improve on their performance from the first game when they mustered a disappointing 106 for eight batting first, even though they bundled out Bangladesh for a historic-low 46, to earn a comfortable 60-run victory.
They will also be wary of the fact they were held to a 2-2 draw by the Proteas in a five-match series last September, after winning the first two matches but then going down in the last two.
“We’ve played against them recently. We went back and looked at the video and looked at where we fell short and we’ve worked on that, and hopefully we can come out on top in tomorrow’s game,” Mohammed said.
“We still have five games to go – and I say five because I believe my team will go all the way through – and we’re looking to build on each game. Obviously all areas of the game we’d like to improve.”
She added: “I think the wicket is good. You never can tell what will happen in an 8 o’clock game but if it spins we’re ready for that and if it doesn’t we’ve also worked on pitches that are not spinning.”
South Africa won their opening match of the tournament on Monday when they easily brushed aside Sri Lanka by seven wickets.
The 30-year-old has taken 113 wickets from 99 T20 Internationals and will join teammate Deandra Dottin in the 100 club, once she gets on to the park tomorrow.
Mohammed made history when she took her 100th T20I wicket in her 81st match two years ago during the successful Windies World Cup campaign in India.
“[The highlight of my career was] definitely the 100th wicket and that was in the last T20 World Cup in India,” Mohammed said today.
“It’s nice to be able to play a hundred T20 International games but it would be nice for us to win this World Cup and retain our title. That would be a great achievement for us as a team.”
She added: “Whenever I step on the field I want to give it my best performance. Being able to take a hundred wickets and breaking that record – being the first male or female – it kind of hits you that you can do things that people thought you could never do.”
Mohammed made her debut in West Indies’ first ever T20 International 10 years ago against Ireland in Dublin, but ironically did not bowl a single ball.
However, she has since gone on to take three five-wicket hauls, along with an amazing hat-trick against South Africa last September during South Africa’s tour of the Caribbean.
Trinidadian Mohammed, who has also played over 100 One-Day Internationals, said she had tried successfully to carve her own niche in the international game.
“I like to be myself. From the time I started I always wanted to make a name for myself. I never wanted to emulate anybody else. Like I said, I wanted to make a name for myself and stand out,” she explained.
“I love representing West Indies. It’s one of the things I look forward to. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy waking up every morning.
“The girls on this team – we’re just not a bunch of girls who come together from different islands – we’re actually a family and I think that makes it a lot better to go out there and play as a team and that has been working for us.”
Not a big spinner of the ball, Mohammed has relied on her unerring accuracy over the years for her success, and says she had focused on keeping her bowling simple.
“[It (action) has changed a bit over the past few years but off-spin is off-spin and you try to stick to the basics and that’s what’s been working for me over the years.”
WEST INDIES – Stafanie Taylor (captain), Merissa Aguilleira, Shemaine Campbelle, Shamilia Connell, Britney Cooper, Deandra Dottin, Afy Fletcher, Qiana Joseph, Chinelle Henry, Kycia Knight, Hayley Matthews, Natasha Mclean, Anisa Mohammed, Chedean Nation, Shakera Selman
SOUTH AFRICA – Dane Van Niekerk (captain), Faye Tunnicliffe, Mignon du Preez, Shabnim Ismail, Marizanne Kapp, Masabata Klaas, Lizelle Lee, Sune Luus, Zintle Mali, Raisibe Ntozakhe, Robyn Searle, Tumi Sekhukhune, Saarah Smith, Chloe Tryon, Laura Wolvaardt.