BENONI - Nida Dar’s all-round brilliance was not enough to secure victory for Pakistan as South Africa sealed a four-wicket win in the fourth T20I in Benoni.

Dar stormed to the second fastest T20I fifty in women’s cricket to boost Pakistan to 172 for 5 - their second-highest total in this format - and then registered a tidy 1 for 21 with the ball but Lizelle Lee’s boundary-laden 60 set up South Africa’s chase. Despite a middle-order wobble, the hosts overhauled the target with five balls to spare to level the series 2-2 with a match to play.

Pakistan’s start with the bat gave no indication of the carnage that would follow, the visitors crawling to 19 for 2 in the Powerplay as Sidra Ameen and Javeria Khan departed early. But Dar was quickly into her groove thereafter, racing into the 30s with her second six.

The runs really started to flow when Nondumiso Shangase, playing in just her second T20I, was brought on in the 11th over. Dar collected another six and three fours, the third of which raised a 20-ball fifty. At the other end, Bismah Maroof took her time to settle down, but she too opened up in Nadine de Klerk’s final over, spanking four fours in a row to push Pakistan’s score beyond 100.

When Dar zipped into the seventies with her eighth four in the 18th over she might have had an eye on a maiden T20I ton, but she was bowled swiping at Sune Luus’ legspin to fall for 75, her strike rate a monumental 202.70. Aliya Riaz then capped Pakistan’s innings with a rapid cameo, slamming 35 not out from 17 balls.

Nida Dar hits 75 runs and takes 1-21

Facing a lofty target, South Africa needed a good start - and they got one, thanks to Lee. She slapped the second ball she faced, from Rameen Shamim, to the boundary and continued in much the same vein.

She took a particular liking to Riaz’s medium pace, cracking four fours in a row off her to raise a 26-ball fifty and complete the Powerplay with South Africa at a dominant 60 for 0. Lee was looking for a 12th boundary when she leaned into a thunderous drive at Kainat Imtiaz, but she failed to keep the shot down and it was Riaz who held a stinging catch at extra cover to give Pakistan an opening in the 8th over.

The runs dried up as Dar rattled through three overs giving away just 14 runs, and Fatima Sana then struck twice in her second over to get rid of both de Klerk and the dangerous Luus, who had struck two sixes to break the shackles.

With the required rate nearing nine, Mignon du Preez chipped the very first ball she faced, from Sana Mir, up and over the left-side field, but was fortunate to survive what appeared to be a dropped catch by wicketkeeper Sidra Nawaz in the same over. She couldn’t make the second chance count, however, giving Pakistan’s leg-side outfielders more catching practice in the deep to fall for 7.

Chloe Tryon was next to go, heaving Riaz to Shamim at wide long-on, but vitally she had struck four boundaries in a bellicose innings that left the lower order with a relatively simple task. South Africa needed 10 from the last two overs and Shabnim Ismail calmly got her team home, slog-sweeping Mir to midwicket and then stepping down the track to chip Shamim over mid-off for the winning runs. The result set up the series decider at the same venue on Thursday afternoon.




PAKISTAN WOMEN: 172-5, 20 overs (Nida Dar 75, Bismah Maroof 37; Shabnim Ismail 2-22)

SOUTH AFRICA WOMEN: 174-6, 19.1 overs (Lizelle Lee 60, Nadine de Klerk 22; Fatima Sana 3-27)