Dane van Niekerk in action. ©WICB

An unbeaten 50 by Dane van Niekerk, including 14 off the last over, helped South Africa Emerging beat Bangladesh Emerging by six wickets in the second T20 at Hammanskraal Mandela Oval in Pretoria on Thursday (August 1). The effort meant that the hosts clinched the three-match series with a game to go.

Chasing 120 for a win, South Africa Emerging lost both their openers early, which meant they started slowly. Trisha Chetty (12) and Tamzin Brits’ (18) dismissals left the hosts at 34 for 2 when van Niekerk walked in. Nadine de Klerk and Lara Goodall departed for twin scores of seven as South Africa Emerging slowly inched to 68 for 4 in the 13th over. It was at this juncture that Faye Tunnicliffe (20 not out), the young wicket-keeper batter, joined van Niekerk in the middle. The duo ensured that no more wickets fell, consolidated through the middle, but seemed as though they had left themselves too much to do at the end.

In spite of having six wickets in the bank, the hosts were left needing 26 off 18 balls and then 19 off 12 balls. A five-run penultimate over by seamer Ritu Moni – who had picked up two wickets in the previous game – meant South Africa Emerging required 14 runs off the final over.

With the odds in favour of Bangladesh Emerging, Khadija Tul Kubra, the off-spinner, took the ball. What proceeded to unfold was her worst nightmare. Van Niekerk, held her nerve, drew from all her experience and smashed the first three deliveries of the final over for 14 runs– four, six, and four– to hand the hosts a thrilling victory and also bring up a 40-ball half-century.

Off-spinner Shaila Sharmin was the standout bowler for Bangladesh Emerging with figures of 4-0-13-2. She slowed down the scoring rate and also sent back de Klerk and Goodall. Moni was economical in her spell too.

Earlier, put in to bat, Bangladesh Emerging failed to get their innings going. After losing their opener Shamima Sultana, Sanjida Islam and captain Nigar Sultana went about steadying the ship. However, the urgency to score quickly was missing. The former scored 33, while the latter stayed unbeaten on 44, both of them at a strike rate of less than a run-a-ball.

Eventually, a 14-ball cameo by Fahima Khatun, in which she scored 26, helped Bangladesh Emerging post 119 for 4. However, the slow scoring rate proved to be their downfall, even though their bowling effort just delayed the inevitable.

Tumi Sekhukhune, the right-arm seamer, was once again amongst the wickets with a brace to her name. She had picked three in the first T20. Before her match-winning contribution with the bat, van Niekerk also picked up a wicket with her leg-spinners.

With a game to go – that will be played on Sunday (August 4) – South Africa Emerging have avenged their loss in the one day series which Bangladesh Emerging won by a 2-1 margin.