Cape Town - South Africa's women achieved their highest ever ICC Women’s World Cup run chase to beat Pakistan and start the 2017 edition with a win at Grace Road, Leicester.
Requiring 207 to win after Pakistan posted their biggest ever ICC Women’s World Cup total, World Cup debutant Laura Wolvaardt (52) and Lizelle Lee (60) set the platform with an opening partnership of 113.
The loss of six wickets for 49 runs - including three run outs - then appeared to give Pakistan - who had earlier
also seen Bibi Nahida (79) post her country’s highest individual ICC WWC score - a chance, but three boundaries in the penultimate over from Shabnim Ismail
saw South Africa home by three wickets.
Ismail said: “I looked calm but I was very nervous out there. I just wanted to get it over and done with. It is always nice to contribute with bat and ball, I haven’t’ really done that much in the last few games.
“I was watching the bowlers bowl their lines and just told myself that if anything was in my area I would just go for it and I did.”
With Pakistan put in to bat first, Bibi represented a crucial presence at the crease as fellow opener Ayesha Zafar (nine) and then Javeria Wadood were bowled by Marizanne Kapp and Moseline Daniels respectively for 43/2.
With just 20 runs managed inside the second 10 overs, it was looking like hard work for Pakistan.
But Bibi - who was dropped by Ayabonga Khaka on 26 - brought up her half-century off 75 balls to steady the ship.
Bibi’s effort eventually ended when she was run out by Ismail but Pakistan boosted its total later on despite losing Sana Mir and Marina Iqbal off Ismail’s bowling in the final over.
The South Africa openers set about their business well early on with Lee bringing up 1 500 runs in ODI cricket with a six over mid-on before reaching her 10th ODI fifty in dramatic fashion as Sadia dropped a catch at long-on to concede four.
But when Lee and Wolvaardt - who brought up her fourth ODI fifty off 81 balls - were dismissed in the 26th and 31st overs respectively, panic seemed to spread through the South Africa team.
Trisha Chetty (11) was caught at midwicket by Javeria before the latter ran out Kapp (one), Chloe Tryon (three) was bowled by Sadia and captain Dane van Niekerk (two) was another run out victim, this time by Nain, with four wickets lost for 19 runs.
Mignon du Preez then holed out to Asmavia Iqbal at deep midwicket but Ismail held her nerve.
Pakistan captain Sana Mir said: “I think it was a great effort by the girls, the way they fought it out. We lacked in all three departments though.
“We were 20 runs short but the bowlers came chipping in with wonderful overs but there were a couple of missed catches.
“There are areas to improve on but I am happy with the way they fought.”