Tazmin Brits starred with the bat and Shabnim Ismail took her 100th T20I wicket as South Africa chased down 124 with an over to spare to take a 1-0 series lead over Pakistan at Kingsmead.
A classy unbeaten half-century from South Africa opener Brits helped the Proteas make it four wins from four against Pakistan in all formats on the tour, following the 3-0 One Day International series whitewash earlier this month.
The home side had batted first in all three ODI wins, but showed that they are just as comfortable chasing a target as Brits – ably supported by Lizelle Lee, Marizanne Kapp and Laura Wolvaardt – made relatively easy work of Pakistan’s first innings target of 124/8.
The South Africa attack carried their impressive form into the T20 format, keeping the Pakistan innings in check as the tourists struggled to build significant partnerships, with Kapp taking 4/24 and Ismail picking up her 100th wicket in T20I cricket. Five of the Pakistan top seven reached double-figures, but a top score of just 31 from 16-year-old Ayesha Naseem illustrated how the South African bowlers were able to take wickets at regular intervals.
In reply, the Proteas’ top three got off to a flier, putting their side well ahead of the required rate before Lee fell for 22. And despite an encouraging bowling performance from Aiman Anwer with 2/29, the win rarely looked in doubt as the home side cruised to victory with six balls remaining.
Omaima Sohail’s brief flurry at the start of the match came to an abrupt end as Kapp clean-bowled the Pakistan opener with the very first ball of her spell. And Ismail soon removed the other opener, Ayesha Zafar, with a variation slower delivery that fooled the 26-year-old and cleaned out her middle stump.
That dismissal took Ismail past 100 wickets in T20I cricket, making her the fourth woman to reach the historic landmark, following in the footsteps of Anisa Mohammed (West Indies), Ellyse Perry (Australia) and Anya Shrubsole (England).
Nahida Khan, who had opened the batting in the ODI series, came in at four but lofted the third ball she faced straight to mid-wicket to leave Pakistan on 32/3 as the innings threatened to unravel. And after a counter-attack from Muneeba Ali and Kainat Imtiaz – with the latter striking consecutive boundaries back over the bowler’s head to get her off to a flier – Ali pulled a powerful shot straight to mid-on before Imtiaz miscued a front-of-the-hand slower ball into the safe hands of Ayabonga Khaka.
Pakistan’s young talent Naseem was almost run out the very next ball as she took a hesitant single, but alongside the big-hitting Nida Dar, she lifted Pakistan to a respectable total before lofting a catch to Ismail in the deep midway through the penultimate over.
A total of 124/8 always felt at least 10 runs short of par from Pakistan and the home side took control of the chase with a run-a-ball opening stand of 38 before Lee fell for 22.
Kapp, who had been South Africa’s second-highest scorer during the ODI series (115 runs at a strike rate of 110.57) helped Brits break the back of the target with 28 from 27 balls when she was stumped by Muneeba Ali off the bowling of Anwer.
But Wolvaardt’s 15 off 10 deliveries ensured there was no nervous finish for South Africa, and fittingly it was Brits who scored the winning run as she knocked a single into the off side to end with an unbeaten 52.
The teams will return to the Durban ground on Sunday for their second match, with the T20I series to conclude at the same venue on Wednesday 3 February.