South Africa brush aside Pakistan challenge
South Africa Women 207 for 5 (Kapp 102*, van Niekerk 55*, Jalil 2-30) beat Pakistan Women 81 (Kapp 3-18, Ismail 2-18) by 126 runs
Riding on a splendid all-round display from Marizanne Kapp, South Africa routed Pakistan by 126 runs in Cuttack on Tuesday to register their first win in this World Cup and qualify for the Super Six round. Kapp scored her maiden hundred and was involved in record stand for the sixth wicket with Dane van Niekerk. She also contributed with the ball, taking three wickets for 18 runs, as Pakistan were dismissed for 81.
It was an intense battle at the Barabati Stadium, with both teams meeting in a virtual knock-out game for the final spot in the Super Six in Group B. Having faced heavy defeats in their other group matches, Pakistan, who were put in to field by South African skipper Mignon du Preez, came on to the field eager to turn the tide. When their new-ball combination of pacers Asmavia Iqbal and Qanita Jali reduced South Africa to 55 for four in the 17th over, the Asian team held the upper hand.
Just as South Africa began building a partnership, Susan Benade was run out, stranded well short of her crease after a moment of confusion with Kapp. However, Kapp and van Niekerk combined to ensure that the South African bowlers had a strong target to defend.
Unperturbed by the run-out drama, Kapp put her head down and focused on rotating the strike, allowing van Niekerk to gain confidence. Soon, the duo were scoring with ease against an all-spin attack. Pakistan's tactics of bowling out Jalil as early as the 21st over, and restricting Iqbal's spell to six overs, backfired as the lack of variation allowed the South African batsmen to score at will.
The last two overs of the South African innings were memorable, filled with quick runs and milestones. In the 49th over, Kapp drove Bismah Maroof through the off side for a single to complete a well-deserved century. In the 50th over, van Niekerk cut loose, hitting part-time offspinner Nida Rashid for 18 runs, beginning with a six over midwicket, the first of the tournament at the Barabati Stadium, and a couple of straight fours. The unbeaten, 128-run stand between Kapp and van Niekerk is the highest partnership for South Africa in the World Cup and the second-highest sixth wicket partnership of all time.
Given their poor batting form throughout this tournament, Pakistan were looking at a difficult chase. None of their measures, including promoting Jalil as a pinch-hitter and bringing skipper Sana Mir lower down the order, paid off as Pakistan collapsed to a low score for the third time in as many matches.
The South African bowlers stuck to their line and all five bowlers took wickets. Kapp, bowling medium pace, emerged as the most successful bowler, picking up three wickets for 18 runs.
The win gave South Africa a rare World Cup victory. During the 2005 World Cup in South Africa, the Proteas girls won just one of the seven leagues games, beating Sri Lanka. In 2009, in Australia, they managed to beat Sri Lanka during the seventh place play-off after going winless in the group stage.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo