Colombo: An industrious 79 by Chloe Tryon and her sixth-wicket partnership worth 89 with Dane van Niekerk, the captain, set South Africa on the path to a 63-run win in a high-profile ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2017 Group B match at the Nondescripts Cricket Club on Tuesday (February 7).
South Africa, the top-ranked side in its group, defended its 258 for 9 with ease, keeping Pakistan down to 195 for 6 in 50 overs.
South Africa’s innings followed the template of two windows of attack around a middle period of consolidation. Batters at every stage did their bit, but it wasn’t till Tryon’s 75-ball effort, which helped add 72 in the last ten overs, that any of them went on to make a big score.
Lizelle Lee, the opener, took on Aliya Riaz, sending the new ball through cover and straight down the ground for a lofted six over the bowler’s head. She fell by the same sword, however, a mistimed shot right after only finding the fielder at point.
Mignon du Preez (40) and Laura Wolvaardt (20) withstood an offside-heavy field and grew in confidence to step out to face spin, guiding their side to 49 at the end of 10 overs.
Maiden wickets for debutants Ghulam Fatima, the leg-spinner, and Nashra Sundhu (3 for 51), the left-arm spinner, in consecutive overs put Pakistan on the ascendancy, but any advantage it had was wiped out by the fourth-wicket pair of du Preez and Marizanne Kapp.
The two are excellent runners, and with Kapp putting her height and strength to good use to scythe through a packed field, the 50 partnership came in quick time.
Pakistan again had the edge with another double-strike in consecutive overs by Javeria Khan, the off-spinner. Sana Mir, the captain, held on to a low catch offered by du Preez, while Kapp (38) was bowled by one pitched at her feet.
Javeria (2 for 45) would deliver a spell of ten unbroken overs in nearly 30º heat, but despite having half the opposition batters in the hut for 129 by the 26th over, Pakistan couldn’t turn the screws.
Tryon was the aggressor in the sixth-wicket stand, where van Niekerk stuck around for a patient 58-ball 30. Tryon favoured the long-off boundary for two of her four massive sixes, the second of which brought up her fifty off 52 balls. Her effort included five fours, setting South Africa up for a strong total.
Pakistan found strike rotation an issue early on, relying on placement and the pace of the ball to find the boundary and get runs.
After 16 overs of pace that had resulted in 58 runs and one wicket, van Niekerk brought herself on and earned a breakthrough with a double-wicket over of off-spin. Javeria was caught at mid-off by Shabnim Ismail and Nahida Khan (35) was trapped lbw.
An increasingly lively field got into the game to add to the pressure being created at both ends: Sune Luus gave away just 32 runs over a long spell of ten overs at a stretch.
Nain Abidi brought out some unconventional sweeps and scoops, and a textbook six down the ground, to top score with 62. But with the required rate climbing, she and Sana Mir (38 not out) were left waging a losing battle.
Both teams are in action on Wednesday, with South Africa playing Scotland at MCA and Pakistan taking on Bangladesh, which won its game against Zimbabwe, at the P Sara Stadium.