A fantastic display from all-rounder Alicia Smith helped South Africa win the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier. Smith bowled a devastating spell of 5-7 as South Africa restricted Pakistan to just 61 all out after winning the toss and electing to field.
And Smith, who became the first South African women to take a five-wicket haul in an ODI, was delighted with her efforts and is already looking forward to playing in the ICC Women’s World Cup in 2009 in Australia.
She said: "I was really pleased. I had been feeling a bit down before today as I had felt I had underperformed in this tournament, so I just wanted to focus on the basics and I was pleased it all worked out.
"Getting a place on the plane to Australia for me is the most important thing at the moment. I dropped out of the team last year, as I fell ill and had to withdraw from the squad, which was very disappointing, so it’s great to be back in the side."
Batting first in bright sunshine, Pakistan never came to grips with a powerful South African bowling attack. Smith, aggressive as ever, bowled with good pace as she caused all kinds of problem for the Pakistani top order, with only opener Tasqeen Qadeer, who made 12 off 35 balls, putting up any kind of resistance.
Bismah Maroof and Sajida Shah, who have both been some of the top performers for Pakistan in this tournament, both made ducks, while the dangerous Sana Mir and Urooj Mumtaz also failed to trouble the scorers.
Sunette Loubser once again provided good variety for the South African attack, claiming 2-14 wickets, while Susan Benade bowled a valuable spell of 2-11 with her medium pace. In reply, South Africa lost in-form Olivia Anderson (3) and Cri-Zelda Brits (0) cheaply, before Claire Terblanche (22*) and Susan Benade (26*) steadied the ship and guided their side home.
South African skipper Cri-Zelda Brits paid tribute to the efforts and her side and singled out Player of the Match, Alicia Smith, for special praise. "I think all of my bowlers did extremely well," said Brits. "Alicia was excellent, and showed the kind of character that I want from my team."
And Brits also paid tribute to the support the South African side received from a passionate home crowd at Stellenbosch University. "I haven’t played in front of a crowd like that in South Africa for ages," said Brits. "I think it’s really important to get people to come and watch our games, as hopefully that will encourage people to start playing as well."
Her opposite number Urooj Mumtaz admitted she would have liked a better performance from her team, but was still proud of the fact her team had achieved qualification for the ICC Women’s World Cup.
"Batting-wise we were disappointed," said Mumtaz. "We are a better team than we showed. I think it was just a bad day at the office for us, but we bowled and fielded pretty well again. South Africa played well, so all credit to them, but congratulations to my team for reaching the World Cup."
And she believes that the coming twelve months will provide some important preparation ahead of their trip to Australia. "We don’t play that many international games, but we know that we will be facing some good teams at the World Cup, so we will have to step up as far as our batting is concerned," said Mumtaz.
"We will be playing in the Asia Cup soon against India and Sri Lanka, who are ranked second and fifth in the world, so it will be a good test for us."
Player of the Tournament Award is shared
Meanwhile, Sana Mir (Pakistan) and Caroline de Fouw shared the Player of the Tournament Award at the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier. Both cricketers were outstanding all week for their sides, with Sana Mir helping her country to qualification for the ICC Women’s World Cup in 2009.
Ireland claimed third place at the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier with a 66-run win over the Netherlands, where Cecilia Joyce captured the Player of the Match Award for her excellent 65, while Clare Shillington made a valuable contribution of 58.
The Netherlands started well and at 102-1 looked well set to challenge Ireland’s total. But a flurry of wickets, with Ciara Metcalfe and Heather Whelan doing most of their damage, meant the Dutch fell well short of their target.
Zimbabwe took fifth place at the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier with a 161-run defeat of Scotland. Batting first Yvonne Rainsford top scored for Zimbabwe with a brilliant 69, with good support from Sinikiwe Mpofu (48) and Julia Chibhabha (48*). And skipper Chibhabha was the bowling star for her side as she claimed figures of 4-16.
Papua New Guinea’s campaign ended on a winning note when they defeated Bermuda by 45 runs. Despite only making 119 all out with the bat, with Terry Lynn Paytner taking 4-16, PNG would have always fancied their chances of claiming victory.
And although Bermuda were very much in the game at 53-3, a dramatic collapse meant that Linda Mienzer’s side returned home without a single win to their name, with Norma Ovasuru’s amazing figures of 10-7-3-4 a key factor in PNG’s victory.