A fiery bowling display earned Pakistan an unlikely 29-run victory over South Africa in Auckland on Saturday.
South Africa were in such a commanding position. AB de Villiers won the toss and elected to field, and the Proteas did well to limit Pakistan to 222. Even when the required target was adjusted to 232, because of the rain experienced during Pakistan’s innings, you would have backed a batting lineup of South Africa’s calibre to knock off the runs.
De Villiers obliged with a fantastic innings of 77 off 58 balls. Unfortunately, this was not enough for the Proteas. None of the other batsmen made a contribution of substance.
Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz, and Rahat Ali ripped through the South African top order. The pressure clearly took its toll on the likes of Rilee Rossouw and JP Duminy, who were both out after playing some needlessly aggressive strokes.
Quinton de Kock was dismissed off the second ball of the innings. Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis did well to absorb the pressure, but it all fell apart after the latter was caught behind. South Africa lost five wickets in the space of 10 overs. They were always going to struggle to recover.
De Villiers found some support in Dale Steyn, before the latter’s luck finally ran out. The Proteas skipper never gave up, calling for the batting Powerplay in the 30th over. When De Villiers started to clear the boundary, it seemed that the Proteas may get out of jail.
But ultimately it was too much for one man to do. De Villiers was forced to take more and more chances as the wickets continued to fall at the other end. He was eventually undone by a fierce Sohail Khan delivery. It was a brilliant response from the bowler, who had been smacked for four the ball before. The Proteas’ last chance of a win departed with De Villiers.
What will disappoint South Africa is that they were in a good position to win this clash. A sharp performance in the field and a tidy showing with the ball limited Pakistan to 222. Misbah-ul-Haq was the only player to score more than 50.
The Proteas should have followed that performance up with a solid batting display. But apart from De Villiers, they had no answer against what was some excellent bowling by Pakistan.
Pakistan 222 all out in 47 overs (Misbah-ul-Haq 56, Sarfraz Ahmed 49, Dale Steyn 3-30, Morné Morkel 2-25)
South Africa 202 all out in 33.3 overs (AB de Villiers 77, Wahab Riaz 3-45, Rahat Ali 3-40, Mohammad Irfan 3-52)
Pakistan won by 29 runs