Some psychological points scoring will also matter, for the teams find themselves in the same group for next year’s tournament.
Pakistan and South Africa will face a hard task topping the drama of the last one-day international between the two teams when they lock horns in a five-match T20 series, that starts in Pretoria today.
The teams played to a tie in Benoni on Sunday, and will have been grateful for the few days since to get over the emotional toll players in both camps would have endured. SA’s stand-in captain Suné Luus reckoned a couple of players might have wanted to spend some time sulking, but they needed to get that out of the way quickly because of the importance of the T20 series.
There are no points on offer as was the case in the ODIs, because both teams have already gained automatic qualification for next year’s Women’s World T20 which will take place in Australia.
That event is now less than a year away, and game plans and building rhythm will be at the forefront of the teams’ minds over the next week.
In addition some psychological points scoring will also matter, for the teams find themselves in the same group for next year’s tournament.
“It’s a new format to look forward to, one we love, we are a great T20 side,” said Luus.
That last point maybe stretching matters somewhat. In Lizelle Lee, Marizanne Kapp, Mignon du Preez and the still absent Dané van Niekerk, the Proteas have some very good individual talent in the T20 format. Lee, Kapp and Van Niekerk have all tasted success in England and Australia as part of domestic leagues in those countries and have been instrumental in those triumphs, but for South Africa, if they fail, the team tends to as well.
In that regard this series is important, for in Van Niekerk’s continued absence due to a stress fracture in her right leg, others will need to step up. Lee did appear to catch fire in the last two ODIs and again her aggressive starts will be crucial for the Proteas, while it will also be interesting to watch what adjustments the talented Laura Wolvaardt has made to make her a more proficient T20 batter.
On the bowling front Kapp and Shabnim Ismail again spearhead the attack, and the variety in the SA team will be key to any success. The Pakistanis, however, have shown they are not just here to make up the numbers. They are a side that is growing too and having gotten so close in the ODIs, will be keen to inflict more damage on South African psyches.
SA T20 squad
Suné Luus (capt), Chloe Tryon, Lizelle Lee, Tazmin Brits, Laura Wolvaardt, Shabnim Ismail, Mignon du Preez, Tumi Sekhukhune, Masabata Klaas, Marizanne Kapp, Nadine De Klerk, Moseline Daniels, Nondumiso Shangase, Sinalo Jafta.
Today: 1st T20, Assupol Tuks Oval, Pretoria
Saturday: 2nd T20, Pietermaritzburg Oval
Sunday: 3rd T20, Pietermaritzburg Oval
22 May: 4th T20, Willowmoore Park, Benoni
23 May: 5th T20, Willowmoore Park