Pakistan. ©PCB

In the third and final ODI of Pakistan’s tour of South Africa, an unusual result was obtained. Both the match and the series ended in a draw!

Having won the toss, Pakistan elected to field first at Benoni. South African openers Laura Wolvaardt and Lizelle Lee strode to the crease, the latter looking to continue her destructive ways from the previous match. Lee fired early in the innings, punishing the returning Aiman Anwer by taking her third over for 14 runs. While Lee lead the charge, Wolvaardt rotated the strike well. As the partnership built to 75, Pakistan’s nerve grew. Lee reached her half-century, but departed soon afterwards on 57, when Pakistan finally made a breakthrough. Aliya Riaz deceived Lee, who knicked the ball and was caught behind by a diving Sidra Nawaz. The same duo then banded together to dismiss Andrie Steyn in a similar manner.

Wolvaardt however remained at the crease and weaved a 60-run stand with her skipper Sune Luus. While both players started slow, they accelerated towards the end of their innings. Wolvaardt eventually fell for 56, registering back-to-back half-centuries. After Mignon du Preez was also run out, Chloe Tryon arrived at the crease and showed once again why she is considered on of the best power-hitters in the women’s game. Her cameo of 28 off 15, that included one four and double the number of sixes, increased the run rate. She inspired her side to accelerate their scoring rate, which was continued by Luus, once Tryon was stumped going for one big shot too many. Luus guided her teams innings with her 84-ball 80. She fell in the penultimate over to Sana Mir, who, by claiming her scalp, becoming the most prolific spinner in the women’s game and third most overall. After being dismissed for their second lowest ODI total in the first match, South Africa bounced back brilliantly in the third one to register their highest ODI score against Pakistan. They finished their innings on 265-6.

In their reply, Pakistan got off to a shaky start. They slipped to 37-3 in the eighth over with both openers and captain Bismah Maroof back in the shed. Interestingly enough, the three wickets fell at 10-run intervals. After Sidra Amin departed when  the team’s score was 17, undone by a loose shot, Nahida Khan followed suit on 27. Then, at 37, Maroof edged a catch to the wicketkeeper. It would not be surprising if the Pakistani camp let out a collective sigh of relief when Javeria Khan and Nida Dar passed the 47-run mark unscathed. The responsibility of resurrecting the innings then fell upon the shoulders of the two experienced campaigners at the crease. They steadied the ship and started building a partnership. Knowing their importance, neither player played rash shots. Instead, they worked their way into their innings before Dar started accelerating. The partnership grew 52 runs, frustrating the hosts, who then enforced a bowling change. Tryon was brought on and delivered immediate results, dismantling Dar’s stumps off her second ball.

Riaz then joined J. Khan. The two went about establishing a partnership again, however, pressure kept building as the run rate rose consistently. They added 74 runs for the fifth wicket before J. Khan was caught, off the bowling of Tumi Sekhukhune, for 74 off 103. Umaima Sohail then came to the crease, promising fireworks. She smashed two boundaries, but her stay at the crease was shortlived.

Her wicket brought the vastly experienced Sana Mir to the crease, and it showed. She, along with Riaz reeled Pakistan back into the game. This included taking 15 runs off a Kapp over, that reduced the equation to 26 off 24. The following over though, Shabnim Ismail went for three runs, which built pressure. As a result, Mir was dismissed of the first ball of the next over. Three balls later, Riaz followed after smashing a six. All of a sudden, Pakistan were eight wickets down, needing 12 off the last over with two new batters at the crease. With hope all but lost, Nashra Sandhu breathed life back into the game off the penultimate delivery by hammering a six. Two were required off the last delivery. Pakistan could scurry through for a single only, drawing the series.

For her two wickets and 71 crucial runs, Aliya Riaz was adjudged Player of the Match.

This is just the sixth instance of a tie in the women’s game. Both teams finished their innings on 265, resulting in a draw. Since both sides also won a match each previously, the series is also tied. The teams get one point each so their rankings on the points table remain unchanged. South Africa sit at number five, while Pakistan trail them by one point.