Pakistan in do-or-die to clash against South Africa in Women’s T20 World Cup

By: Raheel Hanif      Published: 07:42 PM, 29 Feb, 2020
Pakistan in do-or-die to clash against South Africa in Women’s T20 World Cup
Javeria Khan (L) will lead Pakistan in absence of Bismah Maroof.

Pakistan and South Africa are in a do-or-die clash in the crucial ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Group-B clash at the Sydney Showground Stadium on Sunday.

South Africa are currently leading the group with four points coming from two victories, while Pakistan have a win and a loss in their two matches. Pakistan have two points from two games  and a win tomorrow will give Pakistan a real shot at a semi-final spot considering their last match is against lowly Thailand. On the other hand a victory for South Africa will almost guarantee a semi-final spot for them.

The two teams competed in an enthralling five-match T20I series last year which was won by South Africa 3-2, with Pakistan winning the first and the third match of the series.

Pakistan’s bid for a second win in Australia was dealt a blow after their loss to England, with captain Bismah Maroof ruled out of the tournament after suffering a fracture in her right thumb.

Javeria Khan, who captained in the Women’s T20 World Cup two years ago, will lead the team once again while Nahida Khan comes in as the injury replacement. Pakistan will need to be ready from the off against the Proteas, whose 195 for three last time out against Thailand was the highest score in Women’s T20 World Cup history.

All-rounder Aliya Riaz, who scored 41 off 33 balls in Pakistan’s 42-run defeat against England on Friday, feels her side has the capability of defeating South Africa and the recent results against them have given her hopes of a good performance.

Aliya Riaz was quoted as saying by the PCB: “We were not up to our best against England but I feel we have a very good chance of doing well against South Africa. We played a very competitive series against them in their own backyard last year which gives us added confidence going into the game tomorrow. I felt I am in good batting form and enjoyed my innings against England albeit the result didn’t go in our favour. If we can replicate the performance we gave against West Indies we have a great chance of beating South Africa and improving our chances of a place in the semi-finals.”

Pakistan have brought renewed energy to the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup and their notable improvement hasn’t been lost on South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk. Great strides have been made by the Asian team since the last edition two years ago – and with a semi-final spot on the line, Van Niekerk knows her side can’t take anything for granted in Sydney.

“I said to Lizelle [Lee] when we walked in to the stadium, they’ve got a skip in their step, they look like a very energetic team, they look ready,” skipper was quoted as saying by the ICC. “You can feel the energy popping off them and I got excited for the game against them as I know it will be hard fought. We know how good Pakistan are, especially in ICC tournaments. They’re one of those teams that you know it brings out the best in them.

“We are definitely not going to take not even one over lightly against them. I think it will be a difficult game. It was nice to see where they’ve gone since we played them at home and again they’ve improved massively as a team. It’s definitely back to the drawing board to try and sort our plans before we get into Sydney.”

But Aiman Anwar, who has five wickets in two Group B matches to date, feels their new-found belief means another big performance is far from out of the question at the Sydney Showground.

“We will look forward to restricting South Africa if they bat first,” she said. “Even if they score well, we have the ability to put runs on the board. We have chased 160+ against West Indies in Karachi, we want to play good matches. We had some good momentum, we unfortunately couldn’t carry that on after the loss against England but we are looking to get that back against South Africa and Thailand. Our spinners have been doing well, they’ve won a lot of matches for us and we’ll see if that can happen again. I truly believe we are getting better, we have beaten teams that are ranked higher than us so were are positive, we have good intent, and I think this World Cup is open for any team.”