Sloppy Proteas Women squeeze home against Pakistan
CAPE TOWN – It wasn't close to the rip-roaring start the Proteas Women's team would have been hoping for, but they ultimately squeezed home in their return to international cricket after a 10-month hiatus due to Covid-19.
The Kingsmead surface certainly wasn't conducive to any form of entertaining cricket due to its sluggish nature, which actually gave Pakistan the advantage, particularly when they were in the field.
The visitors tried their best to maximize the conditions with initially opening bowler Diana Baig benefitting with the early wickets of Lizelle Lee (0) and Proteas captain Sune Luus (12) to reduce the hosts to a jittery 24/2 after 4.5 overs.
It could have been even worse had Pakistan skipper and wicket-keeper Javeria Khan not spilt a straightforward chance off Baig's bowling when next batsman Lara Goodall edged behind without scoring.
The let off allowed South Africa to rebuild through a steady 60-run partnership for the third-wicket between the ever-present Laura Wolvaardt and Goodall (27) before the latter attempted a swipe across the line to be clean bowled by Nashra Sandhu.
The left-arm spinner Sandu impressed throughout South Africa's innings by maintaining a stranglehold on the home team's batsmen by taking as much pace off the ball as possible to eventually finish with the miserly figures of 2/23, which also included the wicket of Mignon du Preez (29), from her allotted 10 overs.
South Africa's innings never really managed to get out of first gear once Wolvaardt was brilliantly run out for 40 of 62 balls by Baig with only the returning Marizanne Kapp (47 off 59 balls) and tailender Shabnim Ismail (20 off 20 balls) playing with any form of fluency.
Ismail's contribution was vital as it not only managed to edge South Africa to a total of 200, but it was also hopefully the template for how the more senior Proteas batsmen should approach the Pakistani spinners for the remainder of the series.
The South Africa No 9 showed great intent at the crease by using her feet to get to the pitch of the flighted ball and drove Sandhu delightfully through the covers for a boundary.
Spurred on by her performance with the bat, Ismail carried that confidence with her into the field. The veteran fast bowler not only snared the opening wicket of Muneeba Ali and the run out of fellow opener Nahida Khan, but truly showed off her world class status in her second spell.
🔴 RESULT | DOWN TO THE WIRE— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) January 20, 2021
🇿🇦 South Africa take the victory in the final over
🇵🇰 197/8 after 50 overs
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📝 Ball by Ball https://t.co/YUQcOAvv8u#SAvPAK #AlwaysRising@Momentum_za pic.twitter.com/CgGaSQSsEu
Pakistan had recovered from 78/5 to 129/5 through a 51-run partnership between Nida Dar and Aliya Riaz to give the visitors a real chance of hauling in the 201-run victory target.
But that's when Ismail intervened with two wickets off successive deliveries to remove Riaz (28) and Sana for a duck.
Ismail should have had two more wickets, but South Africa's sloppy fielding in the closing stages cost the pacemen a second career "five-for".
South Africa's lackluster effots set up a thrilling finish with Dar and Baig fighting until the very end before Nadine de Klerk held her nerve by denying Pakistan a boundary off the last ball which they required for victory.
South Africa: 200/9 (Kapp 47, Wolvaardt 40, Baig 3/46, Sandhu 2/23)
Pakistan: 197/8 (Dar 59*, Baig 35* Sohail 37, Ismail 3/42)
South Africa won by 3 runs