The Proteas women on Wednesday, beat Pakistan in nail biting fashion to qualify for the 2014 instalment of the ICC Women's World T20 tournament to be held in Bangladesh. This puts South Africa firmly in the top six in the Reliance ICC T20 rankings, ensuring the side does not have to go through the qualification process in Bangladesh next year.
Pakistan batted first after winning the toss and were restricted to 87/5 by a upbeat South African side after their 10-wicket loss to the West Indies on Sunday. Shabnim Ismail played a Player of the Match winning innings, taking three wickets for 19 runs in her four overs.
"I've really enjoyed playing on the subcontinent, it's been a tough challenge but a rewarding one. We have proven to ourselves that we can play in harsh conditions and come out on top. I'm especially proud that we beat two subcontinent teams in their own home ground and although we did not make it into the semis, that just tells me how far the squad has come," she said.
South Africa made a slow start, sitting on three runs when they lost Marizanne Kapp at the start of the third over for 1. Alison Hodgkinson and Trisha Chetty put up a partnership of 47 runs before the former lost her wicket for 25. Chetty followed an over later, stumped for 22 off the bowling of Nida Dar and captain, Mignon du Preez also departed from a stumping at the end of the 16th over. Susan Benade scored 16 at a run a ball before her wicket fell and it was left to Dané van Niekerk and Ismail to finish the match off.
The pair shared a 16-run partnership that went to the wire, with South Africa needing three runs off the final three balls to win. Van Niekerk hit the winning boundary off the second last ball of the match to secure her side's place in the Women's World T20 and to leave Sri Lanka on a positive note.
"We have a squad of very talented players who just need more match experience against stronger opposition for them to cope under pressure situations," du Preez said. "I'm very happy that we were able to finish the tournament on high and that we won't have to go through the process of qualifying for 2014. Having never won a single match in any ICC World T20 until this one, I am very proud that we won two out of our four matches. This means that we can spend the next four months preparing for our tour to the West Indies and the ICC Women's World Cup in India."
South Africa will travel to the Caribbean in January to face the Windies in their home ground to help prepare for women's cricket's biggest stage.
"This World Cup has shown us what work still needs to be done and going to the West Indies, which is a subcontinent region, will help us get our ODI side in the mindset of the 50 over game. Such strong competition will be priceless in our preparation for this all-important tournament," team coach, Yashin Ebrahim-Hassen commented.
South Africa return home on Thursday, 4 October and will land at OR Tambo International at 9:15pm on the same day.