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Dane van Niekerk "honoured" to captain Invincibles in Hundred

South Africa captain Van Niekerk will lead Oval Invincibles against Manchester Originals in the competition's first ever fixture on Wednesday.

Dane van Niekerk feels "honoured" to be captaining Oval Invincibles in The Hundred's first ever match, hailing the opportunity as a symbolic step forward for the women's game.

The South Africa skipper will lead the south London-based franchise against visitors Manchester Originals on Wednesday night as three years of turbulent planning and preparation finally gives way to on-field action.

Much is new and controversial about the tournament – from the unfamiliar city-based teams to the abolition of the six-ball over – but the simple decision to hand centre stage to a women's match is breaking fresh ground too.

Dane van Niekerk is captain of South Africa
Dane van Niekerk is captain of South Africa (David Davies/PA)

The Twenty20 circuit is effectively dominated by men's cricket, but the England and Wales Cricket Board has delivered on its promise to give equal billing to both editions in The Hundred.

"It feels pretty special and it shows what The Hundred stands for," Van Niekerk told the PA news agency.

"It's about equality. To give us as females the first game is something really exciting and I'm honoured to be part of it. This is a sport for all and it doesn't matter where you come from, your background, your race or your sexuality. It's an even playing field.

50 Days to the Hundred Women's Competition Handout
The women's game will take centre stage at The Oval on Wednesday night (Tom Shaw/ECB handout)

"People can be hesitant about any change but hopefully we can put up a really good show in the first game and get people around the world really excited about this."

One of Van Niekerk's first decisions should she find her side fielding first at The Oval will be who to offer the new ball to – a prestigious moment with the cricketing world watching.

There are no shortage of options, with her wife Marizanne Kapp, their Proteas team-mate Shabnim Ismail and England international Tash Farrant all eager to take top billing.

"I think I'll let them fight it out. It will be a scrap between Marizanne, Shab and Tash," she said.

"When I'm leading South Africa I usually let them work it out but I don't want to get in the middle of this. It might have to come down to rock, paper, scissors!"

Captains in The Hundred can decide to let bowlers send down sets of five or 10 deliveries, one of the primary tweaks to traditional playing conditions, but Van Niekerk admits she will need to keep her wits about her if she is to take advantage.

Tash Farrant will be hoping to take the new ball (
Tash Farrant will be hoping to take the new ball (John Walton/PA)

"In the warm-up game we had I forgot about the 10-ball rule! It's scary how fast it went by. You look up, 40 balls have gone and you don't know where they went," she said.

"But I think it's a great concept and as a captain I need to figure it out. It's going to be about reading the game and seeing who is bowling really well. If I see a bowler all over a batter and it feels like we've got a chance to take them out I'll probably go for it.

"We talk about a single being a win in T20 cricket, so a dot ball in a hundred is probably as good as wicket."

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Today's Olympic highlights header

Sunday's key events


GOLF
· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

CYCLING - BMX
· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

SWIMMING
· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

BOXING
· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

TENNIS
· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

SAILING
· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

ATHLETICS
· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

HOCKEY
· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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