Laura Wolvaardt labelled her maiden ICC Women’s T20 World Cup half-century as the best contribution she has made with the bat for South Africa.

Wolvaardt defied a tricky Sydney Showground pitch to post a brilliant 53 not out from 36 balls, a knock that proved vital in her side’s 17-run victory over Pakistan.

The win saw the Proteas book their semi-final spot and it made the wait worthwhile for the 20-year-old, who had yet to bat in the tournament in her new position at No 5.

“It really meant a lot to me, it’s probably the biggest contribution I’ve made to this team if I think about the importance of today and the World Cup,” she said. “I’m really happy things worked out the way they did. I’ve been itching to get going, but me not batting is the first two games is a good thing for the team.

“I’m not a natural big hitter, it’s been quite a journey for me to get that spot in this T20 side, it’s been something I’ve working really hard on. We have a lot of individual match-winners in the side, we’ve spoken a lot about bringing it all together. The way we’re going about our games is really amazing compared to the last World Cup. To see the position we’re in now is such a relief for us, we know it’s there - we’re just happy it’s shining.”

Defeat for Pakistan means they need the remaining Group B results to go their way, as well as a swing in net run rate, to make the last four.

Learnings have been evident in their stint in Australia but captain Javeria Khan knows they still have things to work on if they wish to challenge the top teams.

Runs were not flowing at the Showground but with their bowling and fielding erring late on, Pakistan conceded 54 in the last five overs as Wolvaardt found her timing with aplomb.

One game remains against Thailand with Javeria keen to show how far her side have come since the last Women’s T20 World Cup in the West Indies.

“We’re disappointed in this game, it was a really good performance in the first 16 overs, but we lagged behind in the last four overs with the ball,” said Javeria, who replaced the injured Bismah Maroof as captain. “We weren’t up with the plans, we didn’t execute the plans well and we lost our way in the field a bit.

“With the bat, we need to understand when the best time to accelerate is. We left it too late, but it was a much-improved performance from the girls. We are making fewer mistakes than the past, but it is a case of learning what needs to be done in the situation. As we play more matches, we’ll understand the need to accelerate at the right time in the future.”