They left it late, but the Proteas Women won their World Cup opener against Pakistan by three wickets in Leicester.
The signs of struggling to close out matches were there when they lost four wickets, despite needing just 18 runs for victory against West Indies on Thursday. They were able to win because they only needed 63 for victory, but a similar thing happened against Pakistan on Sunday, and this time 207 runs were needed.
The Proteas Women were on 113-0 at one point, needing just 94 runs for victory with plenty of overs to spare. But, like the Proteas men in their defeat to India, which saw them knocked out of the Champions Trophy, there were three run-outs as panic ensued. With 16 runs needed off the final two overs, Pakistan had the upper hand. Shabnim Ismail, however, scored three boundaries in the penultimate over to get the South Africans on the board.
Pakistan, ranked only one spot behind South Africa, scored their highest total in World Cup history, after posting 206-8. While it was their highest, it wasn’t particularly competitive. Moseline Daniels was in fine form, justifying her inclusion ahead of Masabata Klaas. She took 2-21, which included four maidens off 10 overs. Nahima Khan’s 79 was crucial for Pakistan in giving them something to defend.
The response was typically brutish from Lizelle Lee, and just as classically measured by Laura Wolvaardt, as their contrasting styles of play got them to 113 off only 25.4 overs before Lee departed for 60 off 79. It included eight fours and three sixes.
Wolvaardt got to 52, but she would be the first of three run-out victims, as Marizanne Kapp (5) and Dane van Niekerk (1) also fell short of their creases to leave them suddenly struggling on 162-6.
Ismail, coming in at No 9, was tasked with her rescuing her side, and she did so impeccably, with Sune Luus. The pair put on a 30-run stand to get them over the line with an over remaining. Luus finished on 15 off 18, Ismail 22 off 16, to hand them the victory. They face next New Zealand on Wednesday.
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