Lizelle Lee in action. ©ICC

With Pakistan leading the five-match T20 series 2-1, the hosts came into the fourth match eager to level it. They managed to do so, registering a four-wicket win.

Having won the toss, South Africa elected to field first. Their bowlers got them off to a good start, restricting the Pakistani openers. Only one run was scored of the first over and when the scoring rate did not pick up, pressure built. Sidra Ameen was dismissed on the last ball of the fourth over, with Javeria Khan’s wicket falling off the next delivery. She went for a 15-ball four, reducing Pakistan to 10-2.

Bismah Maroof and Nida Dar then came to the crease. Together, the two experienced campaigners went about rebuilding the innings. While Maroof played the role of an anchor, Dar wreaked havoc. She hammered her way to a 20-ball half-century, the second fastest in women’s T20Is. Maroof also joined in on the onslaught. After hitting her first boundary off the 26th delivery she faced, she found a new gear in the 15th over, taking Nadine de Klerk for four consecutive boundaries, rubbing salt on her wounds after she had dropped a difficult caught and bowled opportunity. The following over though, South Africa struck, ending Pakistan’s first T20 century stand in five years. Maroof was bowled looking to play the ramp shot and had to depart for a run-a-ball 37. An over later, Dar was also bowled for a brilliant 37-ball 75. Despite losing the wickets of their set batters though, Aliya Riaz (35 off 17) continued dominating. Pakistan ended their innings on a daunting 172-5.

Chasing Pakistan’s second highest T20 total, South Africa got off to a steady start. Openers Lizelle Lee and Tazmin Brits challenged the bowlers and by the end of the Powerplay, they were going at 10 runs an over, having lost no wickets. Lee also brought up her half-century within the six overs, off just 26 balls. She was dismissed for a 31-ball 60, ending a 74-run partnership. A powerful knock that included 11 fours came to an abrupt end, caught by Riaz. 11 runs later, Brits followed. The crucial wickets were backed up with a few tight overs, resulting in the required rate increasing to 9.62.

However, Pakistan kept leaking boundaries. Thus, they were unable to build sufficient pressure, to the extent that even when South Africa lost two wickets- of Sune Luus and de Klerk- the batters that followed kept the scoreboard ticking over. They lost four wickets for 18 runs, despite which, due to some undisciplined bowling from the tourists, the equation was 30 runs needed off the last four overs. Though Chloe Tryon departed in the 17th over, for a 12-ball 20, raising the Pakistani supporters’ hopes, Sinalo Jafta and Shabnim Ismail guided the side home. The hosts registered a four-wicket win with five balls to spare.

The series is now leveled at 2-2. The final match will now decide the series winner.