Tight bowling by the Proteas restricted Pakistan to 222 in a rain-affected match at Eden Park on Saturday.
A sharp performance in the field and a tidy showing with the ball sees South Africa in a commanding position. With a strong batting lineup, they should chase down the adjusted target of 232 in 47 overs (according to the Duckworth/Lewis method).
They will, of course, need the weather in Auckland to play ball. There has already been a significant delay in this contest due to rain.
Further disruptions could lead to the game being abandoned, and the spoils being shared. The threat of this outcome may influence South Africa’s approach during the early stages of their innings.
AB de Villiers will feel vindicated with his decision to field first. Dale Steyn took a spectacular catch to dismiss Ahmed Shehzad, while a sharp piece of fielding by David Miller brought an end to Sarfraz Ahmed’s innings. That run-out was a turning point, as Ahmed looked to be in especially dangerous form.
De Villiers’s chopped and changed his bowlers over the course of the first 20 overs, and initially this tactic didn’t pay off. JP Duminy went for 34 runs in three overs, while De Villiers himself leaked 20 in two.
The Proteas skipper persisted, and eventually picked up the prize wicket of Younis Khan. The veteran chipped an innocuous delivery into the hands of Rilee Rossouw at cover, and suddenly the Proteas were well on top.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq attempted to steady the innings, but had little support. Umar Akmal was caught at mid-on by De Villiers in the 37th over. It was at this point when the rain came down.
Shahid Afridi tried to lift the run rate when play resumed. However, the Proteas did well to limit Pakistan to just 29 runs during the batting Powerplay.
Another downpour in the 41st over resulted in a lengthy delay. It was subsequently decided that the game would be reduced to 47 overs a side.
South Africa continued to contain Pakistan in those final overs. Steyn finished strongly, claiming the two key wickets of Misbah-ul-Haq and Afridi. The Proteas’ premier bowler would add a third to his tally when Rahat Ali tried to go over the top and was caught.
In total, Pakistan were only able to add 25 runs after the second rain break. They will struggle to defend 232 on what is a small ground at Eden Park.
Pakistan 222 all out in 47 overs (Misbah-ul-Haq 56, Sarfraz Ahmed 49, Dale Steyn 3-30, Morné Morkel 2-25)
South Africa need 232 to win in 47 overs