What can possibly be a better ODI contest, somewhere along the lines of the India Women taking on Australia Women?
How about Proteas Women vs Pakistan Women in an ODI series?
Pakistan are all set to lock horns with South Africa at their backyard for a 3-match ODI and a 5-match T20I series starting May 6.
It was in 2017 when they last faced each other in One Day Internationals during the ICC World Cup in England.
And that told, the last they last met in the shortest format was back in 2015.
Classically, the Proteas Women vs Pakistan Women has offered some thrilling results and utter domination in the 50-over format.
Here’s some clue.
From 1997 to 2017, a whole decade, Pakistan faced South Africa in 18 ODIs. Of these, Pakistan managed merely 3 wins. How does that make Bismah Maroof feel, one wonders?
That told, in the T20s featuring Proteas Women vs Pakistan Women, the former clinched 5 of their 9 games in a span of 5 years (2010-15).
Doesn’t this clearly show that the Proteas Women vs Pakistan Women has seen a clear dominance of the South Africans over their South Asian challengers?
However, things have certainly changed in both the teams for the last two years. Where Pakistan team has now been playing under the new leader Bismah Maroof, few South Africa players are struggling with injuries and form as well.
Before talking about the current scenario, we should look back to the past. Let’s see how the things unfolded when the two teams met in the previous contests.
There haven’t a single ODI been played between the two teams after the 2017 ICC World Cup, where South Africa clinched a thriller.
It was the first game for both the team in the mega event. In this match, South Africa won the toss and elected to field first. Put into bat, Pakistan lost their opener Ayesha Zafar very cheaply. Another opener Nahida Khan and Javeria Khan steadied the ship, adding 33 runs before Javeria’s dismissal.
Though pace spearheads Shabnim Ismail and Marizanne Kapp conceded 52 and 48 runs in their spells respectively, other bowlers pulled the things off pretty well. However, a stable 79 off 101 from Nahida Khan and later Asmavia Iqbal’s 38-ball 27 lifted Pakistan to 206.
Definitely, a chasable total, right? Let’s see what had happened in the second innings!
South Africa openers Laura Wolvaardt and Lizelle Lee got off to a flying start. They took on every bowler and scored 113 runs through a steady association. However, the then captain Sana Mir was able to provide with the first breakthrough to her team by trapping Lee before the stamps.
Within 11 runs, a direct throw from Ayesha Zafar and a quick collection of Sidra Nawaz sent Wolvaardt in the dugout for 52. Sadia Yousuf, Sana Mir, Nashra Sundhu and Bismah Maroof nearly pulled off the things and dismissed Marizanne Kapp, Chloe Tryon and Dane van Niekerk for a single-digit score.
But an 18-ball 15 and a quickfire 22 off 16 from Shabnim Ismail set the stage of their win with 1 over to spare.
If this was one of the thriller ones, the previous one was a little different.
Prior to the World Cup, both the teams met in the ICC World Cup Qualifier in 2017.
It was not an easy task to restrict star-studded South Africa team within a below-par for Pakistan, despite having the star bowlers in their side.
South Africa won the toss and chose to bat first.
Openers Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvarrdt got off to flying start which they are accustomed to. But that didn’t last long as Lee departed for 18. Wolvaardt fell for 20. While the openers failed to contribute, middle-order stood up.
A huge total to chase, but not impossible on when you have Nahida Khan, Javeria Khan, Bismah Maroof and Nain Abidi in your side. Right?
But as usual, Pakistan got a slow start and opener Ayesha Zafar got out for mere 19. Nahida Khan tried her best to resurrect the innings but the dependable batters Javeria Khan and Bismah Maroof both fell for 8 and 4 respectively.
At that time, it was looking like a herculean task for Pakistan as the bowlers didn’t give any room to the batters with their disciplined bowling which reduced Pakistan to 110/5.
However, the thing started taking another shape when the captain Sana Mir came to her side’s rescue.
Sana Mir played a crucial knock of 38 off 59 while Nain Abidi scored a stable 62. But that was not enough to get past the line. Eventually, Pakistan lost the game by 63 runs.
If both the matches played in 2017 were somehow predictable, their last encounter before that in 2015 was no less than different.
Let’s rewind the clocks a bit more to understand what the situation was when they met before 2017.
They met for a three-match ODI and as many T20I series.
Though South Africa clinched the ODI series by 2-1, T20I series went to Pakistan’s name.
However, Pakistan won the first two games.
Hence the third win was a dead-rubber in the series. But South Africa registered a comfortable win there.
Having won the toss, South Africa chose to field first. Put into bat, Pakistan lost Sidra Ameen and Iram Javed within 2 overs. Later, a 24-run stand came from Marina Iqbal and Bismah Maroof. But a fiery spell of Dane van Niekerk sent Sana Mir and Nahida Khan within a span of 4 runs.
However, a late blitz from Asmavia Iqbal (31 off 28) and Nida Dar’s 15 off 10 helped them to put up 106 on board.
Chasing the total, Dane van Niekerk scored the majority of the runs, scoring a stable 67 of 80 while others supported well and claimed an easy win.
Let’s return to the present scenario featuring Proteas Women vs Pakistan Women.
Though the teams didn’t have a great outing in the ICC World T20 and later in the shortest format of the game, both the teams won their last ODI series.
While South Africa won against Sri Lanka by 3-0, Pakistan registered a win against West Indies by 2-1.
And if you happened to visit the ODI rankings featuring Proteas Women vs Pakistan Women, you get a sense of who is outperforming the other with the former placed at fifth and the latter at sixth place, 13 and 12 points respectively.
Both the teams will give a tough fight to each other, also because the ODI series is a part of the ICC Women’s Championship (2017-20). Hence, the series will play a crucial role.
If South Africa will win the series by 3-0, they will be placed at the second of the table, surpassing England. On the other hand, however, should Pakistan win by 3-0, they will be either in the second or third spot, depending on the net run rate.
Will it be easy for them? As both teams are facing one another after nearly 2 years.
During this period, a few changes have taken shape on both the side.
On the one hand, where South Africa will play without their regular captain Dane van Niekerk and their experienced wicketkeeper batter Trisha Chetty; Pakistan too, are not going to get the service of their pace spearhead Diana Baig in the series.
Coming from a series win with full of confidence, it wouldn’t be easy to say to pick which among Proteas Women vs Pakistan Women will hold the upper hand. But what one can certainly predict is that sparks will fly on the 22 yards when the Proteas fire challenges the authority of Pakistan’s grit.