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Women's World Cup: Shabnim Ismail holds her nerve as South Africa beat Pakistan by 6 runs

South African right-arm pace bowler Shabnim Ismail held her nerve while bowling the crucial last over, conceding just four runs to help her team win a thriller against Pakistan Women by six runs, in the ICC Women's World Cup at the Bay Oval here on Friday.

Defending 223/9, the Proteas bundled out Pakistan for 217 runs in 49.5 overs to keep South Africa's perfect record intact in the World Cup.

With Pakistan requiring 10 runs in the last over, Ismail bowled well within herself to take South Africa into the top-four on the table, where they occupy the third spot with four points in two games.

Pakistan, on the other hand, have a lot of soul-searching to do after losing their third game on the trot, leaving them at the bottom of the table. Pakistan were in the game for the most part, thanks to half-centuries from Nida Dar and Omaima Sohail, but nerves got the better of them in the end.

Chasing 224, openers Nahida Khan and Sidra Ameen got Pakistan off to a solid start, adding 26 runs in the first six overs. Ismail ensured the openers didn't run away with the game, inducing an edge off Ameen's bat to break the opening stand. She was on a hat-trick after she dismissed skipper Bismah Maroof for a golden duck. Thankfully for Pakistan, Omaima Sohail saw off the hat-trick ball.

Two consecutive maidens, including Ismail's double-wicket maiden, saw South Africa come back into the game but Sohail and Nahida ensured that the required run rate didn't go out of reach, finding boundaries regularly.

They brought up their 50-run partnership in the 20th over and at the halfway stage, were 129 runs away from a win. The two looked set and threatened to take the game away with their partnership when Ayabonga Khaka broke the 69-run stand. She trapped Nahida in front of the stumps for 40 and even DRS couldn't come to the Pakistan opener's rescue.

Sohail once again had to consolidate the innings, this time with Nida Dar, but lack of boundaries meant the required run rate shot up during their partnership of 49 that came in 77 balls.

Sohail got to her maiden Cricket World Cup fifty but the pressure of the asking rate got to her as she holed out in the deep to Masabata Klaas. Her wicket was a huge blow to Pakistan as it triggered a mini-collapse with Aliya Riaz and Fatima Sana departing in the next three overs.

The required rate shot up to close to 10 after Pakistan hit a boundary drought between overs 39 and 44. Needing 47 off the last five, they finally got a move on as Dar reached her 50. Diana Baig got in on the act and scored two consecutive boundaries in the first two balls of the penultimate over but the run-out of Dar undid all the good work.

Ismail was trusted to defend 10 off the final over and she delivered. A brilliant running catch off her own bowling sent Baig back to the pavilion before an anti-climactic run-out finished the match, with South Africa emerging victorious by six runs.

Earlier in the day, Wolvaardt compiled 75 at the top of the order and Luus (62) was instrumental in holding the innings together, as South Africa overcame an excellent spell from Pakistan spinner Ghulam Fatima to post 223/9. Fatima picked up three wickets in two overs to help put the clamps on South Africa during the middle overs and Pakistan's victory target would have been much greater if not for her intervention.

Brief scores: South Africa Women 223/9 in 50 overs (Laura Wolvaardt 75, Sune Luus 62; Fatima Sana 3/43) beat Pakistan Women 217 in 49.5 overs (Nahida Khan 40, Omaima Sohail 65, Nida Dar 55; Shabnim Ismail 3/41, Marizanne Kapp 2/43) by six runs.

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