Friday 26 October 2007 

Smith And Pollock Set Up Decider With Big Win

Pakistan 230 for 9 (Younus 82)
South Africa 233 for 3 (Pollock 90, Smith 81) in Multan

South Africa won by 7 wickets to level the series at 2-2 with one to play

Half-centuries from Graeme Smith and Shaun Pollock blasted South Africa to a comprehensive eight-wicket victory in the fourth one-day international against Pakistan in Multan, in turn taking the series down to the wire.

Chasing a modest 231 to win, openers Smith and Herschelle Gibbs gave South Africa the kind of start they have been missing badly before Pollock continued the assault to leave Pakistan floundering.

Boundaries flowed early on with the returning Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul unable to deliver the necessary control, with South Africa's fifty coming up in the seventh over. Gul would later take two wickets in two balls, one a no ball and one the resultant free hit, which rather summed up his day, leaking more than ten runs per over and enjoying no luck whatsoever.

The opening partnership was broken on 65 with Gibbs departing for 39 from 35 balls, Shahid Afridi trapping him in front. South Africa then chose to adventure, sending in Shaun Pollock at three to try and maintain the impetus. Pollock was up to the task, relishing his promotion and offering solid support to Smith who passed his 31st ODI half-century in the 26th over. Pollock reached his 13th fifty two overs later as the pair shared a partnership worth 159, ended when Pollock was caught by Shoaib Malik off of Rao Iftikhar when only seven were needed for victory.

Pollock outdid Smith in terms of both runs scored (90 to 81) and strike rate (107 to 78) as the experiment with the batting order worked a treat

Pakistan might perhaps have regretted not bringing Rao back earlier on in the game, as he dismissed Smith as well before victory was sealed with 12 overs and two balls to spare.

They were chasing 231 after a late rally in the form of a half-century partnership between Kamran Akmal and Abdur Rehman looked to have given Pakistan a chance of victory having recovered from positions of trouble throughout their innings.

The pair came together after Andre Nel removed Younus Khan (82) and Misbah-ul-Haq (seven) in one over but succeeded in maintaining a good run rate before Rehman was dismissed in the penultimate over for 31 having added 60 with Akmal, who perished for 28 with four balls to go, giving Johan Botha his first wicket of the tour. This he swiftly followed up with his second, having Umar Gul caught in the deep for one.

Those two wickets from Andre Nel had brought South Africa right back into contention after a Younus' half-century threatened to halt their charge.

He hit 82 from 111 balls before mistiming a pull with Gibbs accepting the catch before three balls later Misbah-ul-Haq was caught behind to give South Africa a huge boost as they fought hard.

Three wickets went down early, with one each for opening bowlers Pollock, who had Yasir Hameed (ten) caught by Gibbs, and Makhaya Ntini, who removed danger man Afridi for a duck with Andre Nel taking the catch. The big blow came when Mohammad Yousuf was run out for five, caught short after taking on the arm of Botha in the deep.

Malik then added 45 runs at a good rate in a crucial partnership of 91 with Younus, before Jacques Kallis had him caught by Smith.

Fast bowler Asif returned to the Pakistan side as Malik won the toss and elected to bat, Asif replacing Sohail Tanvir.

South Africa made two changes, bringing in Jean-Paul Duminy and Nel in place of Justin Kemp and Charl Langeveldt. Nel proved his worth with his two wickets that stopped Pakistan in their tracks before South Africa's top-order finally showed real form, rendering Duminy redundant.

The final match takes place in Lahore on Monday, October 29th.

© Cricket World 2007