Cape Town - Head coach Hilton Moreeng has emphasised the importance of a strong start in the second T20 international between the Proteas Women and Pakistan to be hosted at the Pietermaritzburg Cricket Oval on Saturday.
The tourists took a 1-0 lead following a seven-wicket win thanks to notable performances from Sana Mir (3/14) with the ball and an 89-run partnership between Bismah Maroof (53) and Player of the Match, Nida Dar (53 & 2/30), helping them chase down South Africa’s first innings total of 119/7.
Having lost a flurry of early wickets after being asked to set a score, Moreeng admits the poor start hampered the team. Although a 54-run stand between Chloe Tryon (43) and Shabnim Ismail (20*) rescued the innings for the home side, he believes the bowling performance which followed was not up to scratch.
"Not an ideal start for us. It's becoming a habit that we do not want to be accustomed with as a team, to start series like that, because we find ourselves having to play catch up cricket," he commented during the second T20 pre-match preparations.
"When you look at our opponents, they played well, congratulations to them. We are just disappointed with the way we started. Losing three quick wickets in a T20 match always puts you on the backfoot.
"The recovery was good but we didn't back it up with good bowling on the day," he added.
The second T20 between the sides forms a part of exciting back-to-back matches set to take place at the City Oval, with the third encounter of the series being played on Sunday, May 19.
The two matches will be pivotal in deciding the series, with the Proteas looking to level the tie and then take a huge step towards clinching a possible series victory. Something that Moreeng is emphasising with his players ahead of the two games in two days.
"We have to rectify things," he highlighted. "That is very important, particularly how we go in the first six (overs) because that sets up the tone of the game. We've had an opportunity to prepare well again and the change of environment is always good for the players, to make sure that we focus and start again because we realise the importance of this weekend for us as a team to make sure we stay in the series.
"We've got two matches and two opportunities to make sure that we leave here a happy team. For that to happen, it means we are required to go back to what we spoke about as a team and address one or two things.
"We know what is coming as far as our opponents are concerned. For us it is to make sure that tomorrow, we need to be 100 percent focused on what we need to do and take it from there," he continued.
Having recently backed his team's mental fortitude, Moreeng remains confident of the team's ability to rise from adversity, singling out the batting department after the struggles in the first encounter, as the side continues to build towards the 2020 ICC Women's T20 World Cup.
"That's been the frustrating thing for us over a while now, as far as batting is concerned. That's the department that we feel, as soon as it starts clicking, we are a different team. It is something we are continuously working on and looking to find answers.
"We've got about nine games before we go into the World Cup. We need to make sure that whatever plans we put together, as far as rotating the squad and looking at players in different roles. How they execute that for us is to make sure by the end of the series, we can have an idea where we are as the selection panel and a country, going into the World Cup.
"So the character of the team is very good in that concern, it is just that habit we don't like, of starting series like this and we need to rectify it as soon as possible," Moreeng added.
The record between South Africa and Pakistan in the shortest format is evenly matched, with both sides claiming victory on five occasions in their ten matches.
Without overlooking a competitive Pakistan side, Moreeng only has victory in mind and backs his side's experience to see them through.
"We need to win, it's very evident," the coach insisted. "From there, we need to take it one ball at a time, over by over and have calm heads on the field. We are playing against a good team, a team with a lot of good spinners. So we need to see how we can counter that and at the end of the day, we feel the mentality in the squad is so good that we can have calm and experienced heads on the field that can control the game and we'll take it from there because we have an opportunity tomorrow to level the series."
The second T20 match of the series will get underway at 13:00 with entrance free of charge.