South Africa v Pakistan 1st ODI - Veteran Hafeez sees Pakistan home
After a horrible time in the Test matches, Pakistan finally came into their colours, by winning the opening ODI against South Africa at Port Elizabeth, with five balls to spare.
South Africa 266-2 (Hashim Amla 108*, Rassie van der Dussen 93; Shadab Khan 1-41)
Pakistan 267-5 (Imam ul-Haq 86, Mohammad Hafeez 71*, Babar Azam 49; Duanne Olivier 2-73)
Result - Pakistan won by 5 wickets
The veteran 38-year-old Mohammad Hafeez, stroked a well-timed 71 off 63 balls with 5 fours and 2 sixes and it must rank as one of his better knocks in run-chases, away from home conditions. He was correctly judged as Player of the Match and in company with Shadab Khan, who hit the winning run, calmed a nervous dressing room. It remains to be seen if Hafeez can perform consistently throughout the series, for his form and confidence, is often known to evaporate quite rapidly.
A day-night fixture in a coastal city of Port Elizabeth, kicked off at 1pm local time and soon the stands were packed with the crowd enjoying both cricket and the music played by the local bands. No shortage of flags and good harmony between the supporters of both proud cricket nations.
South Africa, opting to bat first, reached a total of 266 for 2 off their allotted 50 overs. The home team’s innings contained some odd passages and for a team that only lost two wickets on a grassless surface with shortish boundaries and even bounce, ought to have topped the 300 mark. A 27th ODI hundred and a delightful one too from Hashim Amla was against an unusually disciplined, if not penetrative, Pakistan bowling featuring just one wide and not a single no-ball. Hasan Ali and Shadab Khan both bowled beautifully and on a good day could have picked up more wickets. Amla who batted throughout the fifty overs for an undefeated 108 off 120 balls with 7 fours and a six off Shoaib Malik that brought him three figures
South Africa reached 150 in 32 overs with only one wicket down but still found it quite hard to break free. Amla and debutante, van der Dussen, who after an uncertain start showed lot of confidence in reaching an impressive 93 off 101 balls with 6 fours and 3 sixes, looked in control for the most part of their 155-run 2nd-wicket stand in 28.3 overs but were denied an acceleration by the Pakistan bowling. South Africa also suffered for the fact that its two big hitters, captain Faf du Plessis and David Miller, did not get enough overs to express themselves.
Captain Sarfraz Ahmed, much more at ease in the two limited-overs white ball formats, juggled well with his bowling resources, particularly when Usman Shanwari, limped out with a calf strain in the slog overs. A win often masks the mistakes and blunders and Sarfraz would not like to be reminded of the two poor reviews, which could have cost his side a match, in today’s game
A positive start to Pakistan innings - 45 off 8.2 overs - between openers, Imam-ul-Haq (85) and Fakhar Zaman (25) set the tone with South African pace bowlers, bowling too short. Imam got off the mark on his 12th ball with a straight six off Kagiso Rabada that hit the sight screen and Fakhar, out hooking on the fine leg fence, could have provided more entertainment. Babar Azam looked in very fine touch in his 49 and during his second wicket stand of 94 in 19.4 overs, captain du Plessis went on the defensive too early and allowed the opposition to cruise along and take control of the match. The home side did make a comeback with wickets of Babar, Imam, Shoaib Malik and Sarfraz, but all courtesy of tame dismissals but never threatened to run through as Duanne Olivier, persisting unwisely with short ball on his ODI debut, gave away 73 runs in his 10 overs.
After today’s win, Pakistan remain unbeaten at St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth in ODI, after five matches.
South Africa - Reeza Hendricks, Hashim Amla, Rassie van der Dussen, Faf du Plessis(c), David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen(wk), Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Duanne Olivier
Pakistan - Fakhar Zaman, Imam ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed(c)(wk), Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Usman Shinwari
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