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Predictably Unpredictable Pakistan Expose South Africa Again

Sarfraz Ahmed hits out as Quinton de Kock looks on
Sarfraz Ahmed (right) made a successful comeback to the Pakistan team with a man-of-the-match performance against South Africa.
©REUTERS / Action Images

Pakistan 222 (Misbah 56) beat
South Africa 202 (de Villiers 77)
by 29 runs (D/L method)
World Cup, 29th Match Pool B, Auckland

Pakistan gave a glimpse of their mercurial nature at Eden Park, Auckland, to win their third successive World Cup game, toppling South Africa by 29 runs on the Duckworth/Lewis method in a thriller, even as AB de Villiers’ lone man battle ended in a defeat.

South Africa won the toss and chose to field on a wonderful track that had pace, allowing shots to be played and a hint of movement for bowlers.

Pakistan started on an assured note, with Sarfraz Ahmed (49) opening the innings, while also playing as the gloveman.

Their opening partnership of 30 runs between him and Ahmed Shehzad (18) is Pakistan's best in this tournament.

Sarfraz, who produced a Man of the Match performance, was run out trying to get to his half-century with a risky second run to deep square leg.

That was unlucky considering he was only beginning to open up, hammering three sixes off part-timer JP Duminy (0-34) in the 16th over.

Younus Khan (37) seemed to get back a little bit of his old mojo, only to be deceived by de Villiers’ (1-43) dibbly-dobblers, to lose their position of advantage.

The good work by the top order was frittered away quickly as the middle order with the exception of Misbah-ul-Haq (56) crumbled in a hurry.

Pakistan went from 132 for two to 222 all out with only Shahid Afridi (22) providing some support to his skipper with a 37-run partnership.

Misbah meanwhile also reached a milestone mark of 5,000 One-Day International runs during the innings, the most without a century too.

Dale Steyn (3-30) was particularly devastating in the death overs, picking three wickets including the prized one of Misbah, bundling Pakistan out for 222 in the 47th over.

Morne Morkel (2-25) was unplayable and was well supported by Imran Tahir (1-38) and Kyle Abbott (2-45).

The innings was interrupted by rain twice, going on to reduce the game to 47 overs per side. The target was revised to 232 for South Africa in the stipulated 47 overs as per the D/L calculations.

South Africa had a disastrous start to the innings losing out-of-form Quinton de Kock (0) to a peach of a delivery from Mohammad Irfan (3-52) off the second ball of the innings.

Like they are now used to, Hashim Amla (38) and Faf du Plessis (27) put on a good second-wicket partnership to steady the ship, with Amla smashing three fours off Sohail Khan (1-36).

They were cruising at that stage, taking three fours off Irfan in the very next over, before disaster struck and both the batsmen were out caught behind in successive overs leaving South Africa at 67 for three.

South Africa tried to ease the pressure by promoting Rilee Rossouw (6) up the order ahead of de Villiers (77), an experiment that didn’t last long.

From then on, it became a one-man battle as the South African skipper witnessed a train of wickets following each other.

David Miller (0) went for a duck after a 13-ball vigil followed by Duminy (12) and Steyn (16) as they looked reckless with their bat.

For a while, it still looked like South Africa would make it after de Villiers put on 36-run stand with Steyn, 34 runs with Abbott (12) and another 28 with Morkel (6 not out), during his 58-ball knock that consisted of seven fours and five sixes, two of them massive ones, against Pakistan’s fastest bowler of the evening, Wahab Riaz (3-45).

De Villiers was the ninth wicket to depart, edging one to the keeper, attempting to pull a short one off Sohail.

For Pakistan, Irfan was the pick of the bowlers along with Rahat Ali (3-40) and Wahab.

Afridi (0-28) still looked out of sorts while Sohail took the big wicket of de Villiers to score the match point.

Sarfraz was brilliant behind the stumps setting a Pakistan record of six catches by a wicket-keeper.

Pakistan have now succeeded in bringing their campaign back on track with three consecutive wins, leaving South Africa with a lot of soul searching to do, after their second failure at this tournament chasing.

© Cricket World 2015


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