Due the early rains, match no. 29 of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 between South Africa and Pakistan was reduced to 47 over affair.
Shehzad, gave Pakistan a rousing start. Despite losing his opening partner, Ahmed Shehzad, Sarfraz, struck to the old maxim of playing each ball on its merit and took full advantage of some ordinary bowling by the part-timers. In particular, he showed exemplary footwork to thrash JP Duminy for three sparkling sixes in a single over. Unfortunately for Pakistan, none of the batsmen went on to compile a big score.
Younis Khan, for the first time in this World Cup, looked in decent touch, but he gifted his wicket away by getting out to AB de Villiers’ military medium pace. Sohaib Maqsood followed him back to the pavilion as he was dismissed by Kyle Abbott. Umar Akmal, known for lighting up stadiums with a wide array of sparkling shots, then was dismissed by Morne Morkel. Those crucial blows adversely affected Pakistan.
Misbah yet again had to shepherd their innings and he amassed a fine fifty. Shahid Afridi’s cameo lifted Pakistan’s sagging spirits to some extent, but they lost wickets in a heap in the slog overs and were bowled outFor South Africa, their key bowlers, Morkel and Dale Steyn bowled parsimoniously.
Steyn swung the new ball and generally bowled with good control to take three wickets. He showed his class by bowling a maiden over and taking the key wicket of Misbah in the 44th over of the innings. Dale Steyn’s catch was one of the highlights of the match. Morkel, even on a good wicket for batting, extracted awkward bounce to keep the batsmen on their toes. Abbott used the crease and a slew of variations to take a couple wickets.
Pakistan’s battery of fast bowlers put up a heart-stirring performance to help them upset the apple-cart and defeat their fancied opponents. Even AB de Villiers’ majestic brilliance wasn’t enough to stop Pakistan from registering a memorable win.
After notching up a modest total on the board, it was Mohammad Irfan, who gave Pakistan a fabulous start by snaring the wicket of Quinton de Kock with a peach of a delivery. Irfan got the ball to shape away from the left-handed batsman and with him extracting disconcerting bounce, de Kock could only edge it to the wicket-keeper.
Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis then looked to resurrect South Africa’s fortunes by essaying a slew of boundaries. Amla, with his surgical-like wrists, threaded through the minutest of gaps to collect boundaries square of the wicket on either side.
On the other hand, du Plessis rocked back to play pull shots with a touch of adventurism. But once both of them were dismissed, the pacers ripped through the middle-order. If Irfan extracted pace and bounce, then Rahat got the ball to swing and seam to keep the opposition’s batsmen on tenterhooks. The point can be illustrated by Rahat getting the ball to jag back sharply to trap David Miller plumb in front. Wahab Riaz mixed it up cleverly to land crucial blows. Sohail Khan also made his mark by snaffling the important wicket of de Villiers.
It all came down to whether de Villiers could stand alone amidst the ruins and touch stratospheric peaks to take the Proteas to a monumental victory. AB de Villiers certainly played bedazzling shots. In fact, when de Villiers was exploring every nook and cranny of the ground, the palpating anxiety could be seen in the Pakistani camp. After playing thunderous shots to thump Riaz all over the park, he showed twinkle-toed footwork and used the crease brilliantly to bewitch the crowd with two sixes of Shahid Afridi’s bowling.
When Riaz came into the attack and bowled a low full toss, de Villiers nonchalantly smashed him for a six and gave a glimpse of his ability to play versatile shots by cutting the next ball over cover-point for a boundary. However, he just didn’t get the support from the other end and de Villiers was eventually, dismissed by Sohail. Sarfraz Ahmed too made his presence felt by taking six catches.
Sarfraz Ahmed was adjudged Man of the Match against South Africa.
Pakistan 222 for 10 in 46.4 overs
South Africa 202 for 10 in 33.3 overs