One hundred eighty-eight days ago the Proteas Women’s team were going toe-to-toe with the best women’s team to ever play this game, if not of the best sports team in history, before a packed Newlands stadium.
But here they are in Pakistan for the first time, playing before hardly anyone besides the hosts’ closest relatives, and it seems like another lifetime ago.
It certainly is a backward step for a team that was pushing the mighty Australia to its limit to now having surrendered a series to Pakistan with a game to spare after the hosts cruised home in the second T20I by seven wickets on Sunday evening.
Sidra Amin’s career-best 61 off just 44 balls was the bedrock of Pakistan’s successful chase before Muneeba Ali (26* off 15 balls) and Aliya Riaz (31* off 18 balls) provided the golden finishing touch with an unbroken 54-run partnership off just 29 balls. Bismah Maroof also contributed a crucial 27.
Chasing the identical 151-run target of the first T20I, Pakistan were much more clinical the second time around with the Proteas’ lack of discipline with the ball once again letting them down.
They again conceded six wides, with the experienced Ayabonga Khaka the chief culprit on this occasion as she sent down three in one over and four overall. The right-arm seamer struggled in particular with her lines to the left-handers as she drifted down the leg-side with regularity.
Equally, the Proteas were not clinical in the field with the experienced duo Marizanne Kapp and Sune Luus dropping catches on the boundary that went for six and four respectively.
Only spinners Nonkululeko Mlaba (2/30) and Delmi Tucker (1/24) achieved any success with the ball for the Proteas.
Sent into bat earlier in the evening, South Africa openers Laura Wolvaardt (41) and Brits crafted another 74-run opening stand. Marizanne Kapp (26) and Brits then got together adding a further 37 for the second wicket without really being able to provide the impetus the innings required.
Brits (46) fell just short of her second consecutive half-century of the series when Bismah Maroof took a good catch on the long-off boundary off Sadia Iqbal. The powerful opener departed for 46 off 48 balls, which included two fours and a six.
De Klerk (21* off 11 balls) struck a few late boundaries in the final over but ultimately the acceleration had come too late in the innings.
The Proteas have not become a poor team overnight - nor even in the last 188 days - but the state of play here has shown that the bowling department is severely lacking the strike power of the retired fast bowler Shabnim Ismail, and simply just how difficult it is to win in these parts.
South Africa: 150/3 (Brits 46, Wolvaardt 41)
Pakistan: 156/3 (Ami 61, Riaz 31*, Maroof 27, Ali 26*, Mlaba 2/30)
Pakistan won by 7 wickets, seal series 2-0