South Africa 208-4 (de Villiers 95no) beat
Pakistan 205 (McLaren 3-32) by 6 wickets
Fifth One-Day International, Benoni
The hard-fought One-Day International series between Pakistan and South Africa was denied the finale that it perhaps deserved in Benoni. AB de Villiers made the most of being dropped early in his innings to end on 95 not out and help his side overhaul Pakistan’s inadequate 205 with six overs to spare.
Pakistan’s innings had been one of disappointment as the middle-order all squandered starts, four of them passing 20 but none going on to pass 50. All of the South African pace attack bowled tidily and not without threat.
Dale Steyn continued to have the better of his battle with Mohammad Hafeez, having him caught by Colin Ingram at second slip in his second over after Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq had opted to bat. Imran Farhat didn’t last long after that as he edged through to AB de Villiers, failing to move his feet after surviving a hostile spell from the returning Morne Morkel.
Kamran Akmal and Younus Khan then combined to add 66 for the third-wicket; a stand that would prove to be the highest of the innings. Akmal was comfortably the more fluent, before departing for 48 off 51 balls to Robin Peterson. Younus did pass 7000 ODI runs during his innings of 29 off 58 balls, but his barren run in South Africa was continued when he slapped part-timer Farhaan Behardien to Hashim Amla at mid-wicket.
Misbah and Shoaib Malik then put on 47 for the fifth-wicket and had put Pakistan into a promising position at 151 for four in the 35th over on what is a relatively low-scoring ground. However, they both fell within 10 runs of each other, with Shahid Afridi falling two balls after Malik, as Pakistan marked a disastrous 20 minutes which, looking back, was pivotal in the course of the game.
The other pivotal moment came when AB de Villiers was on one and South Africa were still short of 50 having lost two wickets in their pursuit of Pakistan’s eventual 205. Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan had again bowled threatening opening spells, Junaid accounting for Quinton de Kock for just three. Mohammad Hafeez then induced Colin Ingram to chop on before it was back to Junaid. He caused de Villiers to edge a regulation catch to Younus at slip but he shelled it and South Africa never really let Pakistan back into the game from then on.
De Villiers and an uncharacteristically scratchy Hashim Amla took the score to 83 before Amla’s resistance was ended at 22 by Irfan. However, de Villiers found support from Behardien and the pair took their side to the brink of victory. They were just 36 away when Behardien was caught off Irfan for a well-made 35 off 36 balls, with David Miller then partnering de Villiers through to the end.
De Villiers was named both man of the match and man of the series for his 367 runs at an average of 91.75 from the five matches. He also paid tribute to the efforts of strike-bowler Dale Steyn, who only took four wickets, but conceded less than 3.5 run per over.
"It was a great team effort,” de Villiers said. “It was a pleasure playing here in Benoni, and it was a great series and well-played by Pakistan team too. It is always easy turning back to Dale, but the whole bowling unit got better and better."
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