Colombo, Oct 3: South Africa secured an automatic qualification place in the ICC World Twenty20 2014 after a dramatic five-wicket win over Pakistan in a low scoring contest at the ICC Women's World Twenty 20 2012 here in Colombo on Wednesday.
Despite chasing a meagre 88 to win, South Africa managed to secure victory with just one ball of the game remaining. After winning the toss and deciding to bat, Pakistan struggled to find any form on a slow wicket, with only Bismah Maroof making double figures in an invaluable innings of 32 at the Moors Cricket Ground in Colombo.
Only six boundaries were scored in Pakistan's total of 87 for eight, with Shabnim Ismail the pick of the bowling attack with three for 19, although spinner Sunette Loubser was also very economical in her four overs, which saw her take one for 16.
South Africa began slowly in reply, losing Marizanne Kapp in just the third over, but then Trisha Chetty and Alison Hodgkinson began a watchful partnership against Pakistan's predominantly spin attack. However, the pressure began to tell on the batters when they both were stumped in the space of 10 balls, with Chetty falling for 22 and former skipper Hodgkinson being dismissed for 25.
Skipper Mignon du Preez was next to fall, again stumped, leaving 26 needed off the final four overs. Big hitting Susan Benade then fell for 16, becoming one of two victims for Sadia Yousuf who took two for 10 in her four overs. With just six needed for victory from the final over, Dane Van Niekerk and Shabnim Ismail guided their side to victory with just one delivery to spare.
Captain du Preez was proud of her team's effort to win qualification to the ICC World Twenty20 in 2014: "We are very glad that we have qualified. It was definitely our goal for today. If we couldn't get in the semi-finals we wanted to ensure that we got qualification for 2014. I am very happy and I am very proud of the way the girls batted in the last over."
However, du Preez acknowledged that the team has some work to do: "We are going to go back home and work on our game. I think that on the mental toughness side of things we need to improve, as on the big stage we seem to freeze a bit. Our skills are definitely up there with the best teams and we just need to make sure that when we are in tough situations we don't panic under pressure."
Pakistan captain Sana Mir was frustrated with her side's batting: "I am pretty disappointed with the performance as the batting once again let us down. It is the responsibility of the batters to improve, as bowlers cannot again and again defend totals that are lower than 100 runs. We have to get together and see our weaknesses and need to ensure we score at least 120 runs if we are going to win matches on a regular basis."
Scores in Brief
At Moor's Sports Club Ground in Colombo, South Africa beat Pakistan by 5 wickets with 1 ball to spare
Pakistan 87/8 in 20 overs (Bismah Maroof 32; Shabnim Ismail 3/19) lost to South Africa 88/5 in 19.5 overs (Alison Hodgkinson 25, Trisha Chetty 22; Sadia Yousuf 2/10)
Player of the Match - Shabnim Ismail (South Africa)
First semi-final, 4 October: England Women v New Zealand Women, R.Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
Second semi-final, 5 October: West Indies Women v Australia Women, R. Premadasa Stadium, Colombo