Women's Cricket World Cup

'Big match' Ismail delivers when Proteas need her most: 'She was incredible'

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Shabnim Ismail celebrates her stunning catch (Getty)
Shabnim Ismail celebrates her stunning catch (Getty)
  • Shabnim Ismail was the star for the Proteas as they beat Pakistan on Friday. 
  • The Proteas are now two from two at the Cricket World Cup.
  • Ismail bowled a superb final over to secure the win.

Heading into the final over of Friday's World Cup clash in Mount Maunganui, Pakistan needed just 10 runs to secure what would have been a famous victory over the Proteas.

South Africa, meanwhile, needed two more wickets.

In these high-pressure situations, the best step up, and there are few better on the planet than Shabnim Ismail.

South Africa's all-time leading wicket-taker in women's ODI cricket was the coolest player on the field, doing what she has done countless times before for her country.

With the second ball of her over, Ismail got rid of the dangerous Diana Baig (13 off 9) in a moment that was as significant as any in the context of the match.

Baig went leg-side aerial, but did not connect her shot at all. It looked as if the ball would fall harmlessly into open space, but instead, Ismail covered the ground to take a superb diving catch off her own bowling and change the shape of the game.

A run-out followed with the fifth ball of the over, and the Proteas were home after a thorough examination of their credentials under pressure.

Ismail, again, was key.

"Shabnim was incredible in that last over," said Laura Wolvaardt, who made 75 earlier in the day.

"It's typical of her. She is such a big match player, so I'm not surprised that she handled the pressure the way that she did.

"That catch was incredible. To go from a full run-up, to bowl that ball and then turn around and take an overhead catch was amazing. Overhead catches are difficult enough as it is, so it was really good from her."

Wolvaardt also praised skipper Sune Luus for staying calm when the contest was hanging in the balance.

"We were all surprisingly calm given the situation, and Sune especially" said Wolvaardt.

"Sometimes, you don't even notice that she is on the cricket field. She looks the same as when she's off the field, and that's how chilled she is.

"I think that rubs off on everyone at the end of the day and think it's going to be crucial going forward to remain calm in those big moments."

The Proteas have now won two out of two at the World Cup (they beat Bangladesh in their tournament opener), but they know that they will need to improve significantly if they are to challenge for honours.

"Knowing that we're not playing our best cricket and still winning tight games is a good thing," said Wolvaardt.

"If we were playing our best cricket and it was still this tight, then that would be worse. It's a big morale booster, and hopefully, we can make it less tight next time."

The Proteas are next in action when they take on England on Monday.

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