Winning start: SA’s Sune Luus, left, celebrates with teammate Shabnim Ismail, who hit a four to win the match against Pakistan on Sunday. Picture: REUTERS
Winning start: SA’s Sune Luus, left, celebrates with teammate Shabnim Ismail, who hit a four to win the match against Pakistan on Sunday. Picture: REUTERS

London — Men are apparently from Mars and women are from Venus, but cricket-minded South Africans of whatever gender would not have had to think too hard before picking their preferred planet on Sunday.

Normal service resumed for SA’s men in Cardiff, where England clinched the T20 series.

But the women got their World Cup campaign off to a rousing start with victory over Pakistan in Leicester.

AB de Villiers’s team went down by 19 runs in the deciding game of the rubber, bringing to six the number of defeats in the nine matches they have played in England.

Dane van Niekerk talked tough leading into the tournament, and her team backed her up by surging to a three-wicket win with an over to spare.

Both of SA’s teams were put under pressure in matches that could have gone either way. Only one survived that test.

Any jokes about all those years spent in the kitchen having inured women to the heat will come with a punchline of mandatory membership of Misogynists Anonymous.

What do you call a bowler who claims two-thirds of two hat-tricks? Unlucky? On fire?

In Cardiff on Sunday, you called him Dane Paterson — who was twice on a hat-trick.

Paterson could not quite seal the deal on either occasion, but that did not matter nearly as much as the fact that he put the brakes on England with his haul of 4/32.

That limited the home side to a total of 181/8 when they seemed set for far more.

They got that far, thanks to London-born, Boland-raised and schooled Dawid Malan and his hard-hit 78 off 44 balls.

Malan shared 105 for the second with Alex Hales, and his dismissal in the 14th over was the start of a slide of 6/54.

Paterson was mauled for 30 runs off the first 14 balls he bowled, but then he had a wide delivery slapped into cover’s hands by Sam Billings and bowled a ridiculously improvising Liam Livingstone first ball with a full toss.

Entrusted with bowling the last over of the innings, Paterson induced Joss Buttler to sky to point and yorked David Willey.

Alas, SA’s batsmen could not match Paterson for BMT.

Opener Jon-Jon Smuts made 29, AB de Villiers scored 35 — off 19 balls — and there was spirited stuff down the order from Mangaliso Mosehle and Andile Phehlukwayo, who clobbered SA’s biggest stand, 54, off  32 deliveries.

But that was not enough, and SA will now add the T20 series to a scrapheap on which the one-day rubber and the Champions Trophy are rusting.

Almost 250km northeast of all that in Leicester, a South African attack that harboured the No1-ranked bowler in the world — Marizanne Kapp — and the self-described "fastest bowler in the world" — Shabnim Ismail — failed to rid the  crease of Pakistan opener Nahida Khan.

Until, that is, the 39th over, when Ismail’s throw from deep cover to Kapp was flat and true, and the latter’s underarm lob hit the stumps with Khan out of  her ground.

Khan’s 79 is the best effort by a Pakistani at the World Cup and it helped the team reach 206/8, their highest total in the tournament’s history.

She stood tall as the first four wickets fell for 124, and her dismissal sparked a landslide of 6/49.

Laura Wolvaardt, only 18, made SA’s intent plain by cracking the first two balls of their reply, bowled by Asmavia Iqbal, through point and cover for four. With Lizelle Lee, she put on 113 for the first wicket before Sana Mir had Lee leg before for 60.

Then Wolvaardt was run out for 52. Six wickets disappeared for 53 runs, two more runouts among them.

Could it be that SA’s women were as prone to choking as the men? Happily for them, no.

Sune Luus and Ismail found a way to bring it home in  an unbroken stand of 30 off  24 balls.

Both South African teams, then, felt the pressure. The difference was the women dealt with it better.

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