South Africa survived a late flourish from Pakistan to cling on for the tightest of victories in the first of their three-match ODI series in Durban.
A record ninth-wicket partnership from Nida Dar and Diana Baig of 60 dragged Pakistan to within sight of an unlikely victory, but they fell agonisingly short of the 200 total set by Momentum Proteas, finishing their 50 overs at 197/8.
World no.4 bowler Shabnim Ismail took 3/42 and enjoyed a cameo with the bat to help record 200/9 for Pakistan to chase, with the visitors having elected to bowl first.
Baig took the early wickets of Lizelle Lee and stand-in captain Sune Luus leaving South Africa at 24/2 inside five overs, before Laura Woolvaardt and Lara Goodall steadied the ship, combining for a 60-run partnership.
Following the pair’s dismissal, leaving South Africa at 88/4, an economic spell of bowling by Sadia Iqbal and Nashra Sandhu restricted world no.3 all-rounder Marizanne Kapp and Mignon du Preez to just 13 runs in seven overs, leaving the pair at 101/4 after 31.
The South African middle-order duo began to ramp up the run rate, hitting Fatima Sana for 14, including three fours, in the 36th over and building a partnership of 64 runs.
Kapp was denied her half-century, falling three runs short as she fell victim to a stumping off Dar’s bowling in the 44th over, following Du Preez back to the locker room who had gone the same way from Sandhu for 29, four overs previously.
Nadine de Klerk went the following over, caught and bowled by Baig for a duck to leave the score at 172/7.
Trisha Chetty fell for just seven before Ismail’s 20-run stand helped edge the Proteas on to a final total of 200/9.
Muneeba Ali was the first to fall for Pakistan, caught behind off Ismail’s bowling for just one run. The South African bowler was on-hand to dismiss Ali’s opening partner Nahida Khan, running her out in the eighth over for 14.
Skipper Javeria Khan was dismissed by Nonkululeko Mlaba for just five runs, but with Omaima Sohail and Dar settling at the crease, Pakistan began to dig in.
Following the dismissal of Sohail for 37 and Sidra Nawaz for just one, a strong partnership of 51 was built by Dar and Aliya Riaz to pull Pakistan to within a run a ball needed. But their efforts were stunted by an impressive spell of bowling by Ismail, who took Riaz and Sana in consecutive deliveries to leave them at 129/7.
Dar and Baig battled on to the finish for Pakistan, reaching four overs to go with 46 runs still needed. The pair started to hit out, taking Tumi Sekhukhune and Ismail for 10 each in the 48th and 49th overs.
A dramatic last over saw Baig hit a four off the penultimate delivery from de Klerk and require one more boundary to take the scores level. But de Klerk held her nerve and fired the ball in fast and full to deny Baig, who finished with a score of 35 not out to complement Dar’s 59 not out.
The two sides will face-off again at Kingsmead on Saturday 23 January.
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