Pakistan took on South Africa in their fifth Pool B game in Auckland. In another low-scoring thriller, the Pakistanis emerged victorious by 29 runs, with the Duckworth-Lewis method in action after a couple of rain breaks. After being bowled out for 222, the Pakistani fast bowlers Mohammad Irfan, Rahat Ali and Wahab Riaz put up a spirited performance and bowled the South Africans out for 202. Sarfaraz Ahmed, who played his first game at this World Cup, was excellent behind the stumps as he took six catches.
A heroic knock by AB de Villiers (77 off 58) was just not enough to get the Proteas past the line as there wasn’t any support from the other batsmen. So, South Africa’s story of crumbling under pressure continues!
South Africa opt to bowl, Sarfaraz Ahmed off to a good start
AB de Villiers won the toss and invited Pakistan to bat first. Wicket-keeper batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed replaced out-of-form Nasir Jamshed and the right hander got off to a positive start. His opening partner, Ahmed Shehzad could not hang in for long as he was dismissed for 18 in the ninth over. Dale Steyn took a brilliant catch at mid-on off Kyle Abbott’s bowling to get rid of the Pakistani opener.
Experienced batsman Younis Khan was sent in at no. 3 and he added 62 runs for the second wicket along with Sarfaraz. Just when the partnership had started to look good, Sarfaraz was run-out by David Miller. An unwanted second run cost him his wicket and he walked back after scoring a run-a-ball 49.
Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan maintained a healthy scoring rate before the latter departed after scoring 37 off 44 balls. Sohaib Maqsood (8 off 16) and Umar Akmal (13 off 20) failed to make handy contributions and the job of getting a decent total was once again left to the Pakistani captain. He was joined by Shahid Afridi with 13 more overs to play.
Pakistan collapse after rain break
The heavens opened up when Pakistan were 175/5 after 37 overs. After the rain delay, Shahid Afridi (22 off 15) tried to add some quick runs and lost his wicket in the process. He pulled a short ball from Dale Steyn which went high in the air and into Duminy’s hands at deep square leg. The lower middle order was cleaned up in no time and Pakistan were bowled out for 222. Misbah was the top scorer with 56 off 86 balls.
Amla and du Plessis set up chase for South Africa
Quinton de Kock’s poor run at the World cup continued as he was dismissed caught behind by Mohammad Irfan for a duck, off the very second ball of the chase. Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis, however, stepped up to the mark and brought up the team fifty in the seventh over itself. Both the batsmen were looking dangerous and it seemed as if the two would take South Africa home. Rahat Ali got the breakthrough in the tenth over as he produced an edge off du Plessis’ blade which was safely pouched by the keeper. Amla followed him in the very next over in a similar fashion. These two wickets came after a long spell of ineffective, short pitched bowling by Pakistan, which had allowed Amla and du Plessis to get away at the start.
Wahab Riaz, the most experienced pacer in the lineup, struck with his second ball and got rid of in-form Rilee Rossouw (6 off 9). Wickets continued to tumble as the Pakistani pace trio of Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali and Mohammad Irfan breathed fire.
South African skipper AB de Villiers and J P Duminy were slowly moving towards the target by playing risk-free cricket. In the 20th over, Mohammad Irfan was brought back into the attack and he quickly got the wicket of Duminy (12 off 13). Struggling at 102/6, the onus was now on the skipper and the tail enders.
Pakistan escape de Villiers’ scare, win the match
AB de Villiers seemed to be unfazed by the wickets falling at the other end and he continued to play his game. In the 21st over, he clubbed Wahab Riaz for two sixes to break the shackles. He repeated the feat against Shahid Afridi in the 29th over and put Pakistan under more pressure.
In the 33rd over, Sohail Khan produced a beauty as he banged one short which, de Villiers failed to connect well, and ultimately edged it to the keeper. His fabulous knock of 77 from 58 balls was impregnated with 7 fours and 5 sixes. Imran Tahir was the last man to be dismissed and the Pakistan team went berserk after the win. Sarfaraz Ahmed was adjudged the Man of the Match for his run-a-ball 49 and six catches.
Pakistan 222/10 (Misbah 56, Steyn 3-30) beat South Africa 202/10 (de Villiers 77, Rahat Ali 3-40) by 29 runs (D/L method).