Pakistan showed nerve to chase down the Proteas’ measly total of 266-2 to claim a five-wicket victory in the first ODI at St George’s Park, writes KHALID MOHIDIN.
The victory was highlighted by two half-centuries from Imam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Hafeez, who showed the positive attitude that the Proteas lacked.
It was a surprising batting approach by the Proteas on a slow pitch at St George’s Park. Their innings contained loads of singles, as they struggled to push the run rate above five for a majority of the match.
The spotlight was on debutant Rassie van der Dussen and he delivered, scoring an uncharacteristically-measured 93 that came off 101 balls (six fours, three sixes). His contribution formed part of a 155-run partnership with Hashim Amla (108 off 120 balls, seven fours, one six) that saw the Proteas post 237 by the 46th over.
Although Van der Dussen lost his wicket short of his century, Amla pushed on to score his 27th ODI ton as the Proteas squeezed out a total of 266-2 against tight Pakistan bowling.
Pakistan must be commended for their disciplined bowling performance in restricting the Proteas to a total that seemed 30 runs under par.
Pakistan proved that an attacking approach was possible. Although the visitors added to the score at a similar pace as the Proteas, they did so by scoring more boundaries. Fakhar Zaman scored three fours and a six for his 25 before he was caught on the boundary, attempting to punish a short Duanne Olivier delivery with a pull shot.
Imam-ul-Haq continued to lead Pakistan’s chase and went on to score his fourth ODI half-century, driving his team past the 100-run mark as they entered the 22nd over.
The 28th over saw Reeza Hendricks come into the bowling attack and he picked up the wicket of Babar Azam on 49. Imam then started to take the game away from the Proteas, but Olivier was in the wickets once again with a crucial breakthrough. Imam aimed to smash the ball over cover and sliced it as Hendricks came in from deep to hold on to the catch, despite dislocating his finger earlier in the innings.
Andile Phehlukwayo then made a massive breakthrough by picking up the fourth wicket, trapping Shoaib Malik in his crease and causing him to chop it on to his stumps for 12. Imran Tahir created more drama when he dismissed Sarfaraz Ahmed leg-before for a single.
Mohammad Hafeez, however, continued to show his experience, reaching his half-century in 49 balls (5×4, 2×6) as he continued to frustrate South Africa in the field.
The Proteas did well to take the game to the wire, but Pakistan showed the nerve required to claim a comfortable win with five balls in hand.
South Africa (266-2) – Hashim Amla (108 not out), Rassie van der Dussen (93); Shadab Khan (1-41), Hasan Ali (1-42).
Pakistan (267-5) – Imam-ul-Haq (86), Mohammad Hafeez (71 not out) Babar Azam (49); Duanne Olivier (2-73)
Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images