Pakistan 236-7 (Misbah-ul-Haq 80) beat
South Africa 235-9 (de Villiers 75) by 3 wickets
Fourth One-Day International Durban
Report by John Pennington
The latest twist in the see-sawing One-Day International series between South Africa and Pakistan saw the tourists eventually take a three-wicket win in the fourth match in Durban to level the series at 2-2.
They made a flying start although South Africa recovered to post a score of 234 for nine and after a poor start themselves, Pakistan almost threw away a winning position before scrambling home with eight balls to spare.
Mohammad Irfan picked up two wickets from the first two balls of the match but thanks to AB de Villiers (75) and David Miller (67) South Africa reached a competitive score.
In reply, Pakistan lost three quick wickets - including that of Mohammad Hafeez obstructing the field - but were revived by a ground-record fourth-wicket partnership of 154 between Imran Farhat (93) and Misbah-ul-Haq (80) which set things up and despite a late rally from the home side, the two teams will go to Benoni for Sunday's decider all square.
The impressive Irfan, who had been a doubt through injury ahead of the match, had Hashim Amla caught behind and then Colin Ingram bowled with a fine yorker and he was backed up by new ball partner Junaid Khan.
The left-armer cleverly bowled Graeme Smith as he tried to shuffle across his stumps to make room for 12 and then had Farhaan Behardien caught behind for one.
De Villiers was largely untroubled but Miller, who made a career-best 67 in 77 balls, struggled at first and was dropped early in his innings, but gradually found his groove and the pair got South Africa's innings back on track.
De Villiers played some eye-catching strokes but after Miller was trapped in front by Saeed Ajmal, de Villiers fell to a sharp leg-side catch behind by Kamran Akmal as Ajmal earnt reward for a tight spell that kept South Africa under pressure.
Ryan McLaren made a swift 11 before his aerial drive was caught in unorthodox fashion by the giant Irfan, sticking out a left hand to pluck the ball out of the air after he had either been blinded by the sun or misjudged his attempt and wondered in too far.
He then bowled Rory Kleinveldt for 18 and Junaid dismissed Dale Steyn (9) in the same way, showing the value of bowling full and straight at the death and although Robin Peterson, unbeaten on 25 and Lonwabo Tsotsobe, on five, struck some lusty blows, South Africa always looked a little short.
It was difficult to pick one outstanding bowler as Irfan (3-46), Junaid (3-45) and Ajmal (3-42) all bagged near-identical returns but Hafeez's nought for 40 in 10 overs and Shahid Afridi's nought for 43 in eight were also highly valuable.
Within nine balls of Pakistan's reply, history was made as Hafeez became the first man to be given out obstructing the field in an ODI since Inzamam-ul-Haq in 2006, and the first since the ruling was recently changed. His change of direction as the ball was thrown at the stumps was obvious, and despite the ball missing the stumps, the decision to send him on his way uncontestable.
He had faced one ball and failed to score and was just the fourth man in the history of ODI cricket (Ramiz Raja, Mohinder Amarnath and Inzamam the others) to be dismissed in this unusual manner.
Kamran Akmal (11) fell to a more conventional, but brilliant, method when he cut Tsotsobe to backward point - hard - and Miller took a brilliant catch and even more conventionally, Steyn bowled Younus Khan soon after for six.
From 32 for two, Farhat and Misbah advanced the score to 186 before their partnership was broken. Farhat was the more frenetic, Misbah the more classical. Never looking as if he was in much hurry, he nevertheless scored his 80 runs in 93 balls with a couple of sixes thrown in for good measure. He finally fell, well caught by Behardien in the deep, as he took on Peterson.
In time-honoured fashion, Afridi came in and hammered his first ball for four only to follow it up immediately by being caught behind by de Villiers and then came the key wicket when Farhat went, caught by Behardien off Steyn. The wobble was on.
Shoaib Malik is not a bad player to have coming in at number seven; certainly better than McLaren, who batted there for South Africa, and he played the lead role in shepherding Pakistan home with an unbeaten 19 in as many balls.
There was one more scare before then, however, when Wahab Riaz was run out for a duck - becoming the fourth man in the game to register a golden one - but Ajmal, of all people, helped finish off the job with five not out in two balls.
South Africa were indeed short, but not by much, and their inability to reach a score of 250 or more set up a compelling match. More of the same in Benoni, please.
© Cricket World 2013
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