Is­mail leads South Africa to nail-bit­ing vic­tory over Pak­istan

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - ZAAHIER ADAMS

SHAB­NIM Is­mail proved to be the un­likely hero with the bat for South Africa in their ICC Women’s World Cup opener against Pak­istan at Le­ices­ter yes­ter­day.

Is­mail, who is re­garded as the fastest women’s bowler in the world, had to per­form a res­cue act lower down the or­der to save South Africa from an em­bar­rass­ing de­feat.

Chas­ing Pak­istan’s 206/8 – their high­est score in a World Cup match – the Proteas were cruis­ing at 113 with­out loss in the 26th over.

How­ever, the dis­missal of Lizelle Lee for a well-played 60 off 79 balls (8x4, 3x6), when the opener at­tempted a sweep off Pak­istan cap­tain Sana Mir, only to be trapped in front, trig­gered an almighty col­lapse.

Fel­low opener Laura Wolvaardt, the 18-year-old from Milnerton in Cape Town, was then in­volved in a mix-up with Tr­isha Chetty (11) to be run out for 52 off 87 balls (5x4).

Wolvaardt’s wicket was the sec­ond of seven Proteas to be sent back to the pav­il­ion for the ad­di­tion of just 64 runs. Pak­istan’s spin­ners Nashra Sandhu, Sana Mir and Sadiya Yousuf had brought the sub­con­ti­nent team right back in the game at that stage with South Africa sud­denly find­ing them­selves in real trou­ble at 177/7 with for­mer skip­per Mignon du Preez also back in the hut for 30. South Africa’s abil­ity to han­dle the pres­sure of a ma­jor tour­na­ment was start­ing to ap­pear very brit­tle with three run outs form­ing part of the seven wick­ets to fall.

For­tu­nately for the Proteas, they have a lit­tle ter­rier in Is­mail, who had ear­lier in the day bowled with good pace to fin­ish with fig­ures of 2/52.

Prior to the start of the tour­na­ment, Is­mail was de­ter­mined to leave her mark af­ter miss­ing three months of last sea­son due to a sanc­tion im­posed on her by Cricket South Africa for a breach of dis­ci­pline.

Is­mail, though, held her nerve to put to­gether an un­bro­ken 30-run part­ner­ship for the eighth wicket with Sune Loos (15 not out), that took South Africa home.

Is­mail was the chief ag­gres­sor, with the fast bowler smash­ing 16 runs off the penul­ti­mate over, which in­cluded three beau­ti­fully-timed bound­aries.

“I just looked calm, but I was very ner­vous,” Is­mail said post-match.

“Al­ways nice to con­trib­ute with bat and ball, haven’t been do­ing so enough times.

“But I wanted to get my side over the line to­day.”

“I was bowl­ing the lines the bowlers were bowl­ing and if any­thing was in my area I was go­ing to hit it over the top. First of all, I don’t think I bowled well to­day but get­ting my side over the line to­day.

“My­self and Marizanne (Kapp) work very hard in our death bowl­ing and we’re happy with how things worked out.”

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