South Africa and Pakistan shared the third ODI at Benoni to leave the series between them level at 1-1.
The first two matches in the series had been one-sided, with Pakistan thrashing the Proteas in the first, and the hosts hitting back in the second. But the third was a classic, as Pakistan almost completed their highest ODI chase. Their eventual 265/8 was their highest ODI score. It was Pakistan's first-ever ODI tie, and only the sixth overall in all women's ODIs. South Africa have now been part of three.
Victory seemed a distant dream when the tourists slipped to 37/3 soon into their chase but a pair of 70-plus scores from Javeria Khan and Aliya Riaz – her ODI best – and contributions elsewhere helped repair the damage.
Consecutive half-century stands between Javeria and Nida Dar and Javeria and Aliya took Pakistan past 150, before a pair of 16s from Umaima Sohail and Sana Mir left them 243/6 with three overs to play, and 23 to complete a famous win.
Mir fell to the first ball of the ante-penultimate over to set Pakistan back, before Aliya underlined that her side were still in it with a six next ball. She fell to an excellent catch over the shoulder from Shabnim Ismail later in the same over, giving Masabata Klaas her third scalp of the day, and with just tailenders to bat, and boundaries hard to come by, that, it seemed, was that.
Aiman Anwer was run out on the second ball of the final over, leaving Pakistan needing almost three runs to win, but a penultimate-ball maximum from No. 11 Nashra Sandhu mean that two were needed off the last ball. Only one was possible, and the spoils were shared.
It was a contest fitting of the occasion of Mir’s 147th ODI wicket, which made her the leading wicket-taker among spinners in women’s ODIs. She had struck to dismiss Proteas captain Sune Luus, who top-scored with 80, having earlier intervened with the run-out of Mignon du Preez.
Those scalps had seemed like little more than damage control after Laura Wolvaardt and Lizelle Lee gave South Africa a strong start, striking contrasting half-centuries from the top of the order.
Lee notched 10 fours in hers before falling for 57 in the 16th over, all but 18 of South Africa’s runs to her name. Wolvaardt fell for a run less almost 20 overs later, and with half the boundaries.
Her knock laid the platform for Chloe Tryon to blaze 28 off 17, including a pair of sixes, while Luus’ eighth ODI half-century also contained a duo of maximums.
Their total was by more than 100 runs the highest of the series, and Pakistan had never cleared 250 to win an ODI. But as it turned out, the result was anything but a forgone conclusion.