Cape Town - Following a good start with bat and ball, Proteas women came up short in the end due to faltering middle periods, a factor that head coach Hilton Moreeng and stand-in captain Sune Luus, agreed was the difference in their defeat in the third T20I against Pakistan in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.
On the back of a convincing eight-wicket triumph in the second T20I on Saturday, South Africa was denied back-to-back wins by a 45-ball 55 from Pakistan's Iram Javed that helped guide the touring side to victory by four wickets and give them a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.
Having posted a competitive 138/3 in their allotted 20 overs and beginning well in defence of that total, Luus believes her side let themselves down during the intermediate periods of the innings.
"Definitely not the result we were looking for," Luus said following the loss at the City Oval.
"We started pretty well with the bat and we thought 139 on this wicket was a defendable score. Then, the way Shabnim (Ismail) and Moseline (Daniels) started, we had them three for three. We always thought it was going to be a close game. We had a good start but we kind of lost it in the middle overs, with one or two balls in the over not going according to our plans. That's something we need to work on."
Moreeng echoed his captain's sentiment, as he also stated that the team endured the same lull during their innings with the bat and could have put more runs on the board. He also believes lessons can be taken from these matches and will serve the team well in the future.
"Overall it is not what we'd ideally like, especially after the way we started with the bat," he commented. "We set it up and we always felt like we were 20 runs short after the start we had on this kind of wicket. The bowlers again set it up very well. The opening spell was great, we had three wickets in the first six, seven overs and should have set up the innings for us.
"I must say, Pakistan batted well again, coming back into the game which led to another tight finish, something that we need to learn from. Even the bowler that bowled the last over, she's going to learn from the experience, what she can and not do in those kinds of overs," Moreeng added.
When pressed on how the team can improve on certain aspects of their performances ahead of the crucial fourth T20I taking place in Benoni later this week, Moreeng touched on the team's fielding and bowling, while he praised the batters' development.
"We need to tighten up as far as fielding is concerned. The execution is much better now, with the bat, we can bat more explosively, partnerships are getting better and we just need to guard against those soft dismissals. The way we go about our bowling plans needs attention because we start well and then in the middle periods, we fade. We need to try and see how we can be consistent to back up the start from our openers," he explained.
"The next game is a must win for us to stay in the series and the ladies know it is going to be a tough one. There's a change of venue again, change of environment and change is always good," the coach continued.
Despite the loss, there were impressive performances on display from Tazmin Brits and Moseline Daniels, who recorded their T20 career bests. Brits recorded her maiden T20 half-century, scoring an unbeaten 70 off 61 balls while Daniels shone with the ball, notching up outstanding figures of 3/13 in her four overs.
Luus was full of praise for the duo, saying: "Tazmin was brilliant upfront. It was obviously not ideal having to lose Lizelle (Lee) early on but she showed maturity with the way she batted through and took that responsibility, just to see the team through with her 70 and that was very important. A brilliant innings from her.
"Moseline is always a character. It has been her performances that have kept her in the team and she's been brilliant throughout the last two games. Every time she comes in to play for us, she always performs and always gives her best. Well done to her and hopefully, she gets more games to continue with that momentum," the all-rounder beamed.
Match four takes place at Willowmoore Park on May 22 from 13:00.