Inspirational captain Yolandi Potgieter recorded the highest score of the season in the CSA Women’s Provincial One-Day Cup on Saturday as Free State completed a dominant 188-run Division Two Promotion Play-off win over Northern Cape Heat to seal a place in the first division for the 2023/24 season.
Potgieter smashed 22 boundaries, including 16 fours and six sixes on the way to 167 off 140 deliveries as the home side posted a daunting 348/4 before right-arm spinner Christen van Wyk picked up figures of four for 30 to help dismiss Northern Cape for 160 to help Free State join next season’s ‘Top Six’.
After losing out on the toss and being asked to bat first at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein, Free State got off to a solid start as Potgieter and Delmari Hoffman (42) combined for a 96-run opening stand, with the former reaching her fourth fifty of the campaign.
Despite losing her top-order partner, Potgieter found willing teammates in Miane Smit (34) and then, most significantly, in Gezelle Janse van Rensburg, with the pair putting on a crucial 138-run, fourth-wicket partnership as Potgieter reached triple figures and 150 before being bowled by Claudia Velskoen to leave Free State 334/4.
Janse van Rensburg reached her own milestone, bringing up a half-century worth an unbeaten 65 off 49 balls (13 fours) as Free State finished on 348/4 at the end of their allotted 50 overs.
Velskoen was the pick of the bowlers for the Heat, finishing with two wickets for 86 runs in her nine overs.
With the bat, Northern Cape made a stuttering start as a regular loss of wickets heavily impacted their rhythm at the crease and the subsequent chase.
After navigating through the opening powerplay having lost just one wicket, the Heat quickly fell to 84/4 after 16 overs as van Wyk struck twice in the space of four overs in addition to a run out of Velskoen (27), as the momentum in the contest shifted in the favour of Free State.
In a mini rebuild for Northern Cape, captain Susan Benade (41) and Maxine Arthur (21) added 49 runs in 9.5 overs for the fifth wicket but the pair couldn’t contain the innings for too long as the pressure from the bowlers finally told.
Free State removed the next five Heat wickets for just 16 runs as the Kimberley-based outfit collapsed to 149/9, with van Wyk nabbing two more wickets to end with an impressive return of four for 30 in her eight overs.
Kele Moraki (13) was the last wicket to fall for Northern Cape, who were eventually bowled out for 160, as the celebrations began for Free State after sealing a 188-run victory with 15.2 overs to spare.
The match officially brings an end to the 2022/23 season that saw Six Gun Grill Western Province (One-Day Cup) and the DP World Lions (T20 Cup) crowned as 50-over and T20 champions, with the Glencore North West Dragons relegated to Division Two in the favour of play-off winners, Free State.
Results – CSA Women’s Provincial One-Day Cup Division Two Promotion Play-off
Free State beat Northern Cape Heat by 188 runs.
Free State: 348/4 after 50 overs; Y. Potgieter 167 (140), G. Janse van Rensburg 65*(49); C. Velskoen 2/86, K. Moraki 1/46
Northern Cape Heat: 160 all out after 34.4 overs; S. Benade 41(38), C. Velskoen 27(34); C. van Wyk 4/30, Y. Potgieter 2/13
IMAGE: Free State team celebrating after the CSA Women’s Domestic Promotion Playoff match between Free State and Northern Cape at Mangaung Oval on April 22, 2023 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo by Charle Lombard Gallo Images