Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent
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South Africa Women 223 for 9 (Wolvaardt 75, Luus 62, Sana 3-43, Ghulam 3-52) beat Pakistan Women 217 (Sohail 65, Dar 55, Ismail 3-41) by six runs
Shabnim Ismail defended nine runs off the final over to deny Pakistan a first victory at this World Cup and stretch their losing streak at the marquee tournament to 17 matches.
Ismail, who had struck twice in two balls in her fourth over at the start of Pakistan's chase, pulled off a stunning catch running to midwicket off her own bowling on the second ball of the last over to end Pakistan's hopes of pulling off an upset. She sent down a slower ball, and Diana Baig top-edged to midwicket. Ismail turned, ran back and took the catch over her right shoulder in a display of fine athleticism after a messy effort in the field all round. Two run-outs in the last two overs didn't help Pakistan either.
South Africa were sloppy, missed at least three run-out chances, pulled off two and can consider themselves fortunate to have got away with two points, especially after another sluggish batting performance. They were restricted to a below-par 223, thanks to Fatima Sana and Ghulam Fatima's three-wicket hauls, and a combination of strangling seam and spin. Only two of their top six got into double-figures but both Laura Wolvaardt and Sune Luus made their starts count and reached half-centuries. Pakistan matched that, with two fifties of their own that kept them in the chase. Omaima Sohail's career-best 65 and Nida Dar's ninth ODI half-century took them close but it wasn't enough.
Ismail gave South Africa the early advantage when she had Sidra Ameen caught on the drive at wide slip and Bismah Mahroof out for a first-ball duck. Nahida Khan and Sohail rebuilt, with the highest third-wicket stand for Pakistan against South Africa, and found regular boundaries off overpitched deliveries. But, their strike rotation was limited and Pakistan's required run rate grew to over five an over by the halfway point of their innings.
That's when Ayabonga Khaka made her first big incision. She sent down a good-length delivery that angled in from middle stump and hit Nahida low on the front pad. She was given out but reviewed only to see it confirmed that her leg stump would have been taken out.
Sohail reached fifty off 83 balls and formed another strong partnership with Dar but it was not without its risks. Dar should have been run-out on 6 when she cut Chloe Tryon to Lizelle Lee at cover and was halfway down the track when the ball was stopped, but the throw came in wide. She went on to hit Pakistan's first six of the World Cup when she cleared the front leg to mow Masabata Klaas over mid-on just as the required rate hit seven an over.
Another risky run brought Sohail her career-best when Sune Luus missed a shy at the stumps and she continued to flirt with danger. Sohail took on Tazmin Brits, the former Olympic javelin-thrower's arm - when she decided to go for a second run and her bat was just grounded as throw came in. And then Sohail's stint ended. She pulled Klaas to deep square leg where Lee took the catch.
Aliya Riaz tried to cut Marizanne Kapp three balls later but nicked off and Pakistan's chase seemed all but over when Khaka struck again. Sana missed a flick, was struck on the front pad, and she reviewed in vain.
Pakistan were unable to find the boundary for the next 4.3 overs before Dar hit Klaas over short fine leg and Sidra Nawaz cleared mid-on before slicing a Kapp slower ball to Wolvaardt at point. Baig, at No. 9, showed her worth when she took on Khaka with two aerial slogs off two balls. Then, she hit a full ball towards long-on, and wanted a second but they could not beat the throw as Khaka collected and broke the stumps. Pakistan's challenge was finally up with another run-out when Ghulam wanted to get off strike on the penultimate ball but Trisha Chetty ran her out.
It was a heartbreaking end for Pakistan, who were disciplined and energetic in the field. They got rid of Lizelle Lee, who made a return to the South African XI after a delayed arrival in New Zealand following the birth of her first child, early. In the third over, she drove away from her body, got an edge and Nawaz took an impressive catch to her right. Brits, who had opened in Lee's absence, was in at first-drop but her struggles continued. She managed two runs off 18 balls and edged Baig behind where Nawaz pulled off a second stunner and South Africa finished their powerplay on 29 for 2.
At the other end, Wolvaardt drove Sana wide of Baig at point and then heaved her over the fingertips of Dar at gully. Her signature cover drive came out off Baig and she showed off her ability on the back foot, with successive boundaries off the pull and cut to prompt the introduction of spin at both ends.
Dar and Nashru Sandhu bowled eight overs in tandem and conceded only 25 runs. Dar also thought she had Luus in that period when the South African captain was given out lbw after missing a sweep. Luus, on 12 at the time, reviewed and UltraEdge showed she had hit the ball.
Wolvaardt reached fifty off 75 balls when she charged down the track to hit Fatima wide of mid-on for four. She found two more boundaries in the next four balls to keep South Africa's score ticking. At the other end, Luus was given out lbw a second time. She was on 23 when she missed a sweep but reviewed only for a second edge to be revealed.
The pair took South Africa past the halfway mark, with the run rate just over three an over, but any intent to accelerate was stymied by a mid-inning collapse caused by Ghulam. Wolvaardt got a leading edge as she reached for a slower delivery and offered Ghulam a low return catch. Three balls later, Ghulam had Mignon du Preez caught at point as she tried to cut. In Ghulam's next over, Kapp hit a full toss to deep square leg to give the legspinner a third wicket in 11 balls. She should have had a fourth when Tryon, on 2, hit her in the air to mid-on but the chance was dropped, and it proved costly.
Tryon and Luus went on to put on 55 runs for the sixth wicket and took South Africa into the last ten overs. Tryon took on the role of finisher but was lucky to survive when, on 19, she edged Sana but Nawaz could not hold onto a third diving chance. Tryon went on to hit the first six of the innings, in the 43rd over, when she advanced down the track and sent Dar over long-on.
Luus brought up her slowest fifty in ODIs, off 94 balls, and the second six of the innings but neither she nor Tryon could bat through the innings. South Africa lost 4 for 48 in the last seven overs but scored 66 off the last ten. Pakistan required 67 runs in their last ten overs and came close but not close enough.
Pakistan (W) Innings