Determined Pakistan aim to convert performances into results
Javeria Khan in action. © ICC
Just before the Pakistan team started their trip to the rainbow nation, Pakistan head coach David Hemp had said that South Africa are a strong team and that he is interested in watching how his team take on the challenge. "In terms of result, obviously, we want to return winning more games than we lose, but for me, it’s the performance," Hemp told Women's CricZone.
Two matches into the series, both of which Pakistan lost, it would be interesting to know what Hemp thinks about their performance. In the first match, they had a chance. Nida Dar and Diana Baig were their star performers and brought them to the brink of victory.
One could argue Dar's game-plan in that innings could be one of the several reasons why they did not win. Nevertheless, it almost worked. The fact that they did in their first international appearance since March 2020, seemed commendable.
In the second match, though, the conditions were different. Nashra Sandhu, Nida Dar and Sadia Iqbal - the spin trio who played a crucial role in restricting South Africa in the first match - were outdone by a proactive opposition.
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The South African batters were keen on not letting the spinners settle. They kept rotating the strike against the trio and made sure that they were controlling the pace of the game and not the bowlers. From 101 runs and four wickets from 30 overs between the three spinners in the first game, it went to 135 runs and three wickets in 27 overs in the second.
That is 1.7 runs increase in their economy. If that is one of the reasons for their loss in the second, the fact that Baig and Fatima Sana could not provide an early breakthrough in the power play hurt them more.
But it did not mean that there were not any positives. The second match saw Omaima Sohail and Aliya Riaz rise to the occasion. With Dar continuing her good form with the bat, the onus relies on the young batters to convert their starts into a big inning and lay a platform for the middle-order.
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Among others, skipper Javeria Khan would be keen to put up her hand and lead from the front. She has not been able to contribute with the bat so far. If Pakistan were to turn it around, Javeria might have to bring her 'A' game in the third fixture. Though the ODI series is lost, Javeria and Hemp would want to go into the T20I series with a win behind their back.
South Africa, on the other hand, managed to come back strong and make a statement in the second match, after the close finish in the first.
Lizelle Lee and Marizanne Kapp stepped up after a forgettable outing in the series starter. While Lee made technical adjustments and ensured a good start, Kapp's exploits with the bat in the death overs put the hosts in a strong position.
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Like Javeria, her counterpart Sune Luus also does not have much to show in the series. She might not have contributed with the bat, but one of the biggest concerns for South Africa is that Luus' is not bowling as much as she could have.
In total, she has just bowled three overs in two games. On conditions where Pakistan spinners are playing a crucial role, Luus might have to do more with the ball than she has so far.
The big positive for South Africa is the performance of Nonkululeko Mlaba. Although she went wicketless in the second encounter, the way she has bowled in pressure situations has been impressive. Similarly, Ayabonga Khaka, who replaced Tumi Sekhukhune, bowled extremely well to end up with four wickets that include Sohail, Dar and Riaz.
South Africa, too, are playing their first international series since the 2020 T20 World Cup. With the World Cup scheduled to happen in 2022, they would want to continue their winning-streak and test their pool strength leading up to the tournament.
The last time two teams played, it was a series to remember. Although South Africa might have won the ongoing series, Pakistan had their moments and performances. In the last ODI, the tourists would want their performances to have an impact on the result and end the series with a consolation victory.
South Africa: Sune Luus (C), Laura Wolvaardt, Trisha Chetty (wk), Mignon du Preez, Shabnim Ismail, Lizelle Lee, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Nadine de Klerk, Tumi Sekhukhune, Sinalo Jafta, Marizanne Kapp, Lara Goodall, Nondumiso Shangase, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Faye Tunnicliffe, Anneke Bosch, Tazmin Brits.
Pakistan: Javeria Khan (c), Aimen Anwar, Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Ayesha Naseem, Ayesha Zafar, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Kainat Imtiaz, Muneeba Ali, Nahida Khan, Nashra Sandhu, Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Nawaz (wk) and Syeda Aroob Shah