Will the batting prove heavy over bowling or vice-versa?    Getty Images
Will the batting prove heavy over bowling or vice-versa? Getty Images

Two level-headed sides, England and South Africa, are set to take on each other in match 13 of ICC Women s World Cup 2017 at Bristol. England, who are returning after showing immense talent with bat, are taking all the required steps to make it 3 off 3. England were seen practicing with four local seamers in nets to face the stiff bowling challenge from South Africa. Meanwhile, the Protea women side scripted history when their bowlers Marizanne Kapp, skipper Dane van Niekerk and Shabnim Ismil, when they bundled out West Indies for 48. However, both the sides have their own strengths and weaknesses which they would want to better as they seek third win to proceed to the semi-final.

South Africa s strengths:

Their biggest strength has been the all-round show by the bowlers. Dane s figures of 3.2-3-0-4 helped her achieve a unique feat against West Indies. She became the first bowler in the history of international cricket, taking into consideration men s and women s cricket, to collect four or more wickets in an innings without conceding a single run. Richie Benaud (0 for 3) was the only person who has reached close to achieving this feat against India in 1959. It was also the best bowling figures by a South African player in World Cup.

Apart from her, Shabnim and Marizanne have always destroyed the batting-order, be it against Pakistan or West Indies. Ayabonga Khakha can provide those early breakthroughs as well. That makes South Africa s bowling a formidable unit. However, their biggest hurdle has been the collapse of middle order after gaining early starts in terms of batting.

South Africa s weaknesses:

This hurdle has made the tough get worse for the Protea women. Although Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt have provided blistering start to their side, their mainstay batter Trisha Chetty has been unable to bring her best on this big podium. She has managed to add mere 11 runs so far.

In the match against Pakistan, it all zeroed down to Shabnim and Sune Luus to recover the damage of middle-order collapse.

However, Dane has immense faith on her openers to overcome the batting challenges against England and said, I have the best opening pair in the world. They really execute their plans well. The work they ve put in leading up to the World Cup, all the games, they could fine-tune a lot of things, work on some variations. I m proud of my opening pair, because they re seniors in the side as well and they re leading from the front.

England s strengths:

After a horrible batting collapse against India in the opening game with Heather Knight and Fran Wilson the only highest scorers in the side, the batting has seen host of changes and variations. England s best outcome was against Pakistan when they scored the highest total in Women s World Cup and second-highest for any team.

Heather and Natalie Sciver s centuries were the turning point. Since, there has been nothing stopping their batters. Sarah Taylor also announced her comeback in style after 18 months with an unbeaten 50 against Sri Lanka followed by Heather s show once again while chasing 205.

Heather continued to back her batters ahead of the clash and said, I don t know about (them causing) problems. I d think quite positively! But they re something we haven t come up against in the tournament this far. We ve hopefully got the skill to combat that sort of pace and expect them to swing it a little bit, but I m perfectly confident in our batters.

England s weaknesses:

England have been heavily dependent on their new-ball pair Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole who have been the constant wicket-takers in the previous editions. Laura Marsh has been the only pick of bowlers who stood out after cleaning Sri Lanka with her figures of 4 for 45. However, English conditions favouring spinners and with the likes of Ekta Bisht, Shabnim constantly picking wickets, Katherine has managed to add mere 2 wickets under her belt off 3 matches.

Anya, on the other hand, is yet to open her tally with wickets. However, coach Mark Robinson and captain Heather felt that England portrayed one of the best bowling against Sri Lanka, We always felt if we could start to get over some hurdles, get some form, get some overs, we ll grow [stronger] in the competition. Katherine and Anya are exactly the same, they ll get better. They could only beat the bat. It s up to the batsmen to nick it. They beat the bat a lot, hit pads etc. If they bowl like that and [stay] without a wicket then so be it, said the coach.

To conclude, England can up their game when it matters while South Africa have the ability to fall into scraps under pressure as witnessed against Pakistan. With a high voltage clash on cards, both the sides would look to fine-tune their weaknesses and continue their focus on the respective strengths.

Squads:

England Women: Heather Knight (c), Sarah Taylor (wk), Tamsin Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Georgia Elwiss, Jenny Gunn, Alex Hartley, Danielle Hazell, Beth Langston, Laura Marsh, Natalie Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Fran Wilson, Lauren Winfield and Danielle Wyatt.

South Africa Women: Dane van Niekerk (c), Trisha Chetty (wk), Moseline Daniels, Nadine de Klerk, Mignon du Preez, Shabnim Ismail, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Lizelle Lee, Sune Luus, Raisibe Ntozakhe, Andrie Steyn, Chloe Tryon and Laura Wolvaardt.

Time: 10:30 local | 09:30 GMT | 15:00 IST