Proteas Women conclude historic tour of Pakistan with another loss but lessons learnt

Proteas Women conclude historic tour of Pakistan with another loss but lessons learnt
Laura Wolvaardt during the Proteas Women's World Cup final against Australia at Newlands in Cape Town on 26 February 2023. (Photo: Shaun Roy / BackpagePix)

South Africa’s inability to adapt to conditions resulted in them losing four out of six matches in their white-ball tour of Pakistan.

The Proteas concluded their first tour to Pakistan with an eight-wicket defeat, in the final One Day International in their three-match series, on Thursday. The series ended 2-1 in South Africa’s favour after the guests clinched the opening two ODIs.

Sidra Ameen (68 off 82) and Bismah Maroof (60* off 98) struck half-centuries to help Pakistan easily chase down South Africa’s modest total of 185 with 12 overs to spare.

Over the course of the six white-ball matches played – a three-match T20I series and three-match ODI series – in the two weeks the Proteas were in Pakistan, the hosts won four.

South Africa entered the series as overwhelming favourites. The Proteas are ranked third in the world in ODI cricket while Pakistan languish at 10th.

Proteas Women Pakistan

South Africa’s Suné Luus in action during the third ODI against Pakistan in Karachi on 14 September 2023. (Photo: EPA / Rehan Khan)

South Africa’s last match before the tour was the T20I Cricket World Cup final, whereas Pakistan only won one match in that tournament.

Instead, it was Pakistan who whitewashed the Proteas in the T20I series – although all three matches were tightly contested.

But according to interim skipper Laura Wolvaardt the conditions at National Stadium in Karachi – where all six matches were played – were a challenge to adapt to.

“I think it’s always going to be a challenge coming to a new country where you’ve never played before, where conditions are different to what you’ve experienced and what you’ve been able to prepare with at home,” she told the media on Thursday.

“[Pakistan] bowled very well in their conditions. They slowed it down when we were trying to come harder and harder at the ball in the T20 series. They played a really good three games of cricket and they were the deserved winners.”

New captain

The tour to Pakistan was Wolvaardt’s first as captain of the national side. New Zealand touch down in the country next week for a three-match ODI series and five-match T20I series.

According to Cricket South Africa, the decision on whether to continue with Wolvaardt as captain – she is doing the job in an interim capacity – or find a new skipper will be determined after the White Ferns’ visit.

Proteas Women Pakistan

Pakistan’s Fatima Sana in action during the second ODI against South Africa in Karachi on 11 September 2023. (Photo: EPA / Rehan Khan)

Nevertheless, Wolvaardt – who only scored 30 runs across the ODI series but was named player of the series in the T20I series – has gleefully taken up the challenge of leader of the side.

“It’s been a lot for me to learn and to take in,” she said. “Especially from a bowling point of view, I have to attend the bowling meetings now and it’s been a lot of information to take in up front.

“Just getting to know my bowlers, getting to know their plans, what fields they usually like to have.

“It’s been a lot of information, so I think the T20s I felt a bit frantic on the field a little bit, but I think it’s definitely gotten better as the tour has gone on.”

It has also been an adjustment for the usually meticulous batter to be flexible with plans on the field.

Proteas Women Pakistan

South Africa celebrate after taking a Pakistan wicket during their second ODI in Karachi on 11 September 2023. (Photo: EPA / Rehan Khan)

“I’ve learned that I have to sometimes be a bit more adaptable depending on what the situation needs,” she said.

“I’m normally a very organised and planned-out person, so I’d like to plan out my bowling changes before the time. But I’ve learned that you have to be able to adapt and change depending on the situation.”

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Marizanne Kapp and former skipper Suné Luus provided an able shoulder for Wolvaardt to lean on during the tour. Vice-captain Chloe Tryon will provide added support, as she returns to the national set-up for the White Ferns tour after taking a leave of absence in Pakistan.

“I’m lucky that I have a lot of senior players around me that are able to help me in those [tricky] moments,” Wolvaardt said.

“It’s been a big learning curve for me. I haven’t done too much captaincy in recent years, so just to start afresh has been a lot to take in. But I think it’s gone all right.”

South Africa’s Suné Luus plays a shot against Pakistan during the second ODI in Karachi on 8 September 2023. (Photo: EPA / Rehan Khan)

Short turnaround

The turnaround for the series against New Zealand is 10 days, with the sides clashing at the JB Marks Oval in Potchefstroom on Sunday, 24 September.

The short turnaround is welcome by Wolvaardt since the last time the Proteas played together, before Pakistan, was in the World Cup final six months ago.

“We’ve had quite a long layoff from when we last played in the World Cup till now, so I’m definitely welcoming all the cricket that we’re getting to play,” the skipper said.

Suné Luus celebrates 100 runs during the Proteas’ first ODI against Pakistan in Karachi on 8 September 2023. (Photo: EPA / Rehan Khan)

“It will be an entirely different challenge. Conditions will be very different. We have a travel aspect in the tour as well, we’ll be moving around South Africa quite a bit, whereas here we were just based at one venue.”

Like the Pakistan ODI series, the New Zealand ODI series counts towards qualification for the 2025 50-over Cricket World Cup, adding value to obtaining a positive result. DM


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