MOUNT MAUNGANUI, March 11: Pacer Shabnim Ismail snared two wickets in a nerve-racking final over to seal a thrilling six-run win for South Africa over Pakistan in a league stage match of the ICC Women’s World Cup here on Friday.
Defending 10 runs in the last over, Ismail (3/41) picked two wickets while giving away just three runs to power South Africa to their second win of the tournament.
Earlier, South Africa overcame an excellent spell by spinner Ghulam Fatima (3/52) to post a competitive 223/9, riding on half-centuries by opener Laura Wolvaardt (75) and skipper Suner Luus (62).
Their bowlers then sealed the deal despite Omaima Sohail (65) and Nida Dar’s (55) best efforts.
“As a strike bowler, I like to come out at the death. I was always confident (of taking that catch in the final over). I love catches, that was 100 percent mine. I don’t take a lot of catches during warm-ups but I always back myself,” Ismail said of her stunning show.
With the win, South Africa, who remain unbeaten after two matches, moved to the third spot while Pakistan continued to languish at the bottom of the points table.
“You have got to love the World Cup, no game is easy. We can take the positives out of the two wins and try and see what we need to work on going ahead. We take it one game at a time and want to play our best cricket,” Luus said after the match.
Put to bat, the in-form Wolvaardt played a masterful 91-ball knock, finding the fence 10 times. The opener was perfectly complimented by skipper Luus (62 off 102 balls) at the other end.
The two held the South African innings together, putting up 89 runs for the third wicket to gain momentum and the team looked set for a huge total.
However, Fatima snapped three wickets in two overs to derail South Africa’s cruising innings and the Proteas were left reeling at 120/5 after 32 overs.
Chloe Tryon (31) and Trisha Chetty (31) then shared a 55-run stand to help South Africa post a 200 plus score.
Chasing 224 for their first win of the tournament, openers Nahida Khan (40) and Sidra Ameen (12) got Pakistan off to a decent start, adding 26 runs in the first six overs.
However, Ismail ensured the openers don’t run away with the game, extracting an edge off Ameen’s bat to break the opening stand.
She dismissed skipper Bismah Maroof for a duck in the very next ball but was unable to claim a hat-trick as Sohail saw off the delivery.
“We were very clinical with the ball and the key moments we missed cost us, South Africa clinched those moments and they deserve to win,” a disappointed Maroof said later.
Two consecutive maidens, including Ismail’s double-wicket maiden, saw South Africa come back into the game but Sohail and Nahida kept going about their work swiftly, finding boundaries regularly.
They brought up their 50-run stand in the 20th over and at the halfway stage, Pakistan were 129 runs away from a win.
But the partnership was broken by seamer Ayabonga Khaka when she trapped Nahida leg before.
Sohail then combined forces with Nida Dar and Pakistan looking set for their maiden win of the tournament.
A flurry of wickets again put the match in balance but with set batter Dar in the middle, Pakistan had the slight upper hand.
Daina Baig (13) then joined the party, hitting a couple of boundaries to help the required run rate decrease.
However, South Africa held their nerve to first effect Dar’s run out in the penultimate over before Ismail’s last over heroics. (PTI)