Shabnim Ismail said she managed to overcome a lot of nerves to get the Proteas Women over the line against Pakistan in the World Cup opener on Sunday.
Ismail displayed a complete performance against Pakistan. Her figures of 2-52, and her run out of Nahida Khan for 79 meant South Africa kept a lid on the Pakistan innings, restricting them to 206. With bat in hand, Ismail scored 16 runs off the penultimate over to help her side to a narrow three-wicket victory.
Ismail came to the wicket with the Proteas in a precarious situation, needing 30 runs off as many balls for victory over Pakistan, with three wickets remaining. Though she admitted to being nervous, she had confidence in her ability to get the job done.
‘It was quite nerve-wracking out there, but I think I just backed myself and put my head down and hit the ball. I could hear all the girls on the sideline shouting to me to keep my head down and hit the ball and I backed myself to do that,’ Ismail said.
It was by virtue of a batting collapse, in which the Proteas lost five wickets for 53 runs that Ismail found herself at the crease.
‘To be honest, I didn’t want to put on any greens [clothing] after I finished bowling. The bowlers said it was time that the batters be a little bit clinical, and after that the wickets started to tumble and I started to get nervous,’ she reflected.
Ismail said she then resolved that the bowlers must finish the job for the team by remaining calm and patient.
‘I told myself that if the wickets start tumbling, we must not crumble at the back-end like we always do. The bowlers who came in to bat, I think we did a really good job by staying confident and staying nice and patient. We weren’t really that nervous in the middle, we just knew where our strengths were and we backed ourselves and won the game,’ she added.
The Proteas fast bowler was also grateful for the presence of Sune Luus at the other end throughout her match-winning knock of 22 of 16 balls.
‘I was very nervous at first going into the game. I spoke to Sune and I told her that the base had been laid by the bowlers, so let’s just go out there and just do it. I think the ball came nicely on to the bat and with Sune there, who was ‘in’ it, was much easier for myself to get bat on ball and just take it from there.’
Ismail also touched on the value of beginning a World Cup with a win, something the team has struggled to do in campaigns gone by.
‘It was one of the first World Cups where we came out on top in the first game, so that was a confidence-booster for us, so hopefully all of the nerves in the batting and bowling departments are gone,’ she said.
‘When we go into the second game we must be more confident going in to the game so I’m just really chuffed on our performance today and my performance especially, so I think it’s a good thing leading up to the couple of games coming up, so we need to stay positive and keep the momentum from our side this time,’ she added.
The Proteas next assignment is against New Zealand on Wednesday.
Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images