Nida Dar in action. ©Pakistan Cricket

Pakistan kicked off the T20 leg of their South African tour in style. After restricting South Africa to a low total, they chased it down with seven wickets and two overs to spare.

The tourists won the toss and elected to field first, sending South Africa in to bat. The hosts could not have imagined a worse start to their innings when, within the first over, Sana Mir had both openers caught behind for ducks. At the end of the over, South Africa were two wickets down and had one run on the board. Things went from bad to worse for the side when, four overs later, Marizanne Kapp was bowled by Nida Dar for 10, after she had just smashed a boundary.

It was then up to the skipper Sune Luus and veteran Mignon du Preez to revive the innings. While Luus played cautiously, du Preez got the scoreboard moving, finding form after hammering a six off Dar. She worked her way to 23 off 22, before being caught by Aliya Riaz. A promising 29-run partnership came to an end. Mir then struck again in 13th over. Luus completely missed the delivery and was bowled for a struggling 23-ball 10. After adding six runs to the total, debutant Sinalo Jafta was also dismissed, leaving South Africa reeling at 61-6. Jafta’s wicket however triggered an acceleration. Chloe Tryon, who had uncharacteristically not hit a boundary off the 12 deliveries she had faced at that point, smashed the next delivery for four. Shabnim Ismail followed suit. Together, they took 19 runs off the next two overs. Their 54-run stand meant South Africa were able to post a respectable total of 119-7 on the board. Such a target looked highly improbable at the start of their innings, but Tryon’s 31-ball 43 and Ismail’s 20* off 16 ensured the hosts had something to bowl at.

For Pakistan, Mir was exemplary with the ball. She took three wickets for just 14 runs from her allotted overs. Offering support were Dar’s two scalps, along with one each from Riaz and Nashra Sandhu. Fatima Sana, on T20 debut, went for 18 runs off her three overs.

In their reply, Pakistan got off to a similar start to South Africa. They too lost opener Javeria Rauf in the first over, to a caught behind, off the bowling of Kapp. However, Omaima Sohail and Bismah Maroof then started building a partnership, which ended when the former was caught and bowled for 10. Maroof and Dar then put on a massive 89-run partnership, both reaching their half-centuries. Dar dominated with her quick-fire 53 off 37, with Maroof rotating the strike well. Dar was eventually bowled by Masabata Klass when Pakistan required just two more runs to win. After her, Iram Javed came to the crease, and played nine dot balls, glowing viewers to the edge of their seat, expecting the winning runs to be scored at any time. Pakistan were able to comfortably chase down the total with two overs to spare. Javed got off the mark by hitting the winning run.

For her all-round performance, Dar was named player of the match. By registering their seven-wicket win, Pakistan now lead the five-match T20 series 1-0.