South Africa women 207 for 7 (Lee 60, Wolvaardt 52, Yousuf 2-30) beat Pakistan women 206 for 8 (Nahida 79, Daniels 2-21, Ismail 2-52) by three wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
South Africa had only won four out of 30 ODIs in which they had to chase 200 or more. But victory looked a mere formality on Sunday when Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt, their openers, put on 113 in chase of 207. Then, out of nowhere, they lost five wickets for 34 runs, three of them to run outs, to induce panic.
A cruise had turned into a full-blown collapse with Pakistan gleefully tightening the noose. It came down to the No. 9 batsman Shabnim Ismail, who had a poor day with the ball, conceding 52 off her nine overs for two wickets - expensive when taken into account the low-scoring contest - to introduce the calm back into South Africa's chase. She hit back-to-back fours to clinch a three-wicket win with an over to spare.
All the tension began in the middle overs of the chase. Nashra Sandhu, who took nine wickets in five matches in the qualifying tournament to put Pakistan in the World Cup, bowled with immaculate control, conceding only 32 runs in a single spell of 10 overs. Then, Sadia Yousuf, who dropped a straightforward catch at long-off to reprieve Lee on 46, picked up the big wickets of Chloe Tryon and Mignon du Preez as Pakistan brought themselves back to life.
With the equation down to 16 off 12 balls, Sana Mir, the captain who had one over left, punted on Kainat Imtiaz, who had conceded 40 off seven overs until that point. Ayesha Zafar put down a tough chance at mid-off, the ball went to the boundary, South Africa sneaked home and Mir, who had been Pakistan's most economical bowler with 1 for 27 off nine overs, was left to rue the crucial decision.
The trigger for South Africa's collapse was the run-out of Wolvaardt. The 18-year old, playing her first World Cup game, batted fluently to bring up her fourth half-century in ODIs. But in the 31st over, she was sold a dummy by the new batsman Trisha Chetty. Wolvaardt was more than halfway down the pitch when her partner decided a second run was not on. South Africa, cruising high and happy at 124 for 1 at that stage, suddenly slipped into a hole. They were lucky to have got away.
When Pakistan reflect on the game, they'd perhaps point to the crucial 30 runs which they couldn't get while batting as a reason for not getting in two crucial points. Opener Nahida Khan top scored with 79, the highest individual score for Pakistan in a World Cup, and potentially set them up for a total of at least 230.
But poor running and a succession of desperate strokes resulted in a middle-order muddle. Two of their most accomplished batsmen - Bismah Maroof and Nain Abidi - were guilty of these indiscretions; both of them were stumped in an attempt to hit out when the situation demanded a calmer approach. Nahida was forced back into playing the anchor role before she was run-out in the 39th over. Pakistan were clearly far from their best, and still they put on quite a show.