Sana Mir in action. ©ICC
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Pakistan kicked off their tour of South Africa in style, registering an emphatic eight-wicket win over their opponents. Having completed the chase in under 15 overs, they now lead the series 1-0.

Pakistan won the toss, a sign from the start that it was their day, and elected to field first. From there, they were in complete control of the game. Debutant teenage quick Fatima Sana sent the hard-hitting Lizelle Lee back for four in the first over, before Sana Mir struck in the next one, dismissing Laura Wolvaardt and Sune Luus off consecutive deliveries. South Africa, at the end of just two overs, had been reduced to 8-3.

It was then up to the experienced Mignon du Preez and rising star Andrie Steyn to steady the ship. Du Preez showed her intent early, smacking two boundaries off the following over, but her stay at the crease was also shortlived as she had to walk back for a 17-ball 18, well caught by Nahida Khan at first slip. South Africa were in a dismal position at 35-5, with their last two well-recognized batters at the crease. It seemed as though luck favored Pakistan in this match with N. Khan taking a screamer to dismiss Marizanne Kapp. Chloe Tryon, who top-scored with her 21, fell soon afterwards, caught plumb leg before off the bowling of Nida Dar. South Africa’s tail had been exposed just 16 overs into the match, and only 59 runs on the board.

The tail then failed to add anymore runs to the total apart from a single off the bat of Shabnim Ismail. South Africa registered four ducks in their innings, leading them to their second lowest ODI total of 63 all out; a catastrophic collapse for the hosts. In contrast to South Africa’s batting, Pakistan’s bowling performance was nearly flawless. Mir claimed four scalps for just 11 runs off her six overs, earning her the Player of the Match award. Nashra Sandhu and Dar took two wickets each, while the former bowled three maiden overs as well. As a bowling unit, the tourists showed discipline, conceding just five extras.

In their pursuit of a small total, Pakistan showed maturity in their chase. After losing N. Khan cheaply, they cautiously played the bowling of Kapp, who playing in her 100th ODI, was as threatening as ever. Javeria Khan led the run chase with her unbeaten 34 to guide Pakistan to their first ODI win of not only the series, but their first win outside of Asia since 2015. Both Kapp and Ismail claimed a scalp each, but the defense of such a low total looked highly improbable from the beginning.

Their eight-wicket win means Pakistan now lead the series 1-0 and have overtaken South Africa on the ICC Women’s Championship points table, to occupy fifth place. The next match between these two sides will take place at the same venue on May 9. Will South Africa bounce back, or can Pakistan seal back-to-back series wins?