LONDON: Pakistan kept their semi-final hopes alive by knocking South Africa out of the World Cup with a 49-run triumph here in front of a packed Lord’s on Sunday.
The recalled Haris Sohail smashed a quickfire 89 from just 59 balls while Babar Azam hit 69, enabling Pakistan to post 308-7 after electing to bat first under a thin cloud cover in the must-win game.
It turned out to be too big a total for a struggling South African batting line-up which was unable to cope with yet another sensational spell from Mohammad Amir (2-49) and the guile of leggie Shadab Khan (3-50). Wahab Riaz finished off the tail with 3-46 to end any hopes of a South African rear guard action despite Andile Phehlukwayo’s unbeaten 46 from 32 balls.
The Lord’s victory couldn’t have come at a better time for the Pakistanis, who were under intense fire following an embarrassing 89-run defeat against old foes India at Old Trafford on June 16.
The players were mocked and even abused following the defeat which had left Pakistan’s hopes of making the last four hanging by a thread. But just when the Pakistanis were looking down and out, they have managed to produce a typical Pakistan-like comeback.
And the man, who must take a bow is the 30-year-old Haris. Confined to the bench after the seven-wicket loss against West Indies, Haris returned to the playing eleven and made an instant impact. He took the South African bowlers by the sword and played the lead role in two key partnerships – 81 from 68 balls with Babar Azam and 71 from 40 balls with Imad Wasim.
His stunning knock which included nine fours and three sixes was the reason why South Africa were made to chase an imposing total on a Lord’s wicket that was offering plenty of assistance to spinners.
Pakistan’s bowling arsenal had the spin trio of Shadab, Imad and Mohammad Hafeez. But the biggest gun in it was, as usual, Mohammad Amir. For the fifth time in as many games, Amir was in his element as he kept the Proteas on the back foot, getting Hashim Amla off his first ball and then getting rid of Faf du Plessis, just when the South African skipper was starting to look dangerous with 63 from 79 balls.
Despite the win, Pakistan should be concerned over their sloppy catching in the match. The Pakistanis allowed South Africa series of reprieves in their run-chase. Opener Quinton de Kock was dropped by Wahab Riaz off Hafeez in the first over of the innings. De Kock went on to make 47. The big-hitting David Miller was let off the hook twice. Amir faltered in an attempt to catch him off his own bowling. Sarfraz dropped van der Dussen behind the stumps off Wahab whose agony doubled when Amir dropped Miller near third man on the very next ball.
Earlier, openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq put on a solid partnership of 81 from 89 balls. But neither of them was able to convert the good starts into big totals.
Fakhar was looking in fine nick as he made his intent clear from the very start when he hit Kagiso Rabada with a cracking four off just the third ball of the match. Imam, too, made a fluent start as he hit Lungi Ngidi for three fours in the fourth over.
Pakistan were going strong at 35-0 in 5 overs but slowly the South African attack began to apply some brakes to the Pakistani innings. The openers could fetch 23 from the next five overs. Fakhar survived a scare in the 12th over when he hit Chris Morris towards the deep square boundary where Imran Tahir believed he took a clean catch. But TV replays were inconclusive.
Fakhar was unable to capitalise on the reprieve and fell to Imran playing a silly lap-scoop that went straight into the hands of Hashim Amla at first slip. Fakhar’s 44 came from 50 balls and included six fours and a six.
Imran, who is set to retire after the World Cup also scalped Imam, this time taking a stunning one-handed catch while diving to his right. Imam also made 44 from 58 balls with the help of six fours. With his impressive figures of 2-41, Imran became South Africa’s top wicket-taker in World Cup history, surpassing the legendary Allan Donald with 39 wickets.
The experienced Hafeez didn’t look in top gear in his 33-ball 20 falling to part-time spinner Aiden Markram. With Sarfraz opting to stay back, Haris came in and had an instant impact on the Pakistani innings. Together with Babar Azam, Haris lifted the innings with some fluent shots and put up 81 from 68 balls for the fourth wicket. Babar fell to Lungi Ngidi after scoring 69 from 80 balls, once again missing out on a big knock despite looking in sublime form.
Haris continued hitting the bowlers to all corners of the park and together with Imad (23 from 15) took Pakistan closer to 300. He was unlucky to miss out on a well-deserved century falling to Ngidi on the penultimate ball of the innings.
Pakistan won their third toss in a row earlier in the morning. Unlike the game against India, Sarfraz opted to bat first after bringing in Haris and Shaheen Shah Afridi in the playing eleven for the under-performing duo of Shoaib Malik and Hasan Ali. Pakistan play their next must-win match against New Zealand at Edgbaston on Wednesday.
Pakistan won toss
Imam-ul-Haq c & b Tahir 44
Fakhar Zaman c Amla b Tahir 44
Babar Azam c Ngidi b Phehlukwayo 69
Mohammad Hafeez lbw b Markram 20
Haris Sohail c De Kock b Ngidi 89
Imad Wasim c sub (Duminy) b Ngidi 23
Wahab Riaz b Ngidi 4
*†Sarfraz Ahmed not out 2
Shadab Khan not out 1
Extras (lb6, nb1, w5) 12
Total (7 wickets; 50 overs) 308
Did not bat: Mohammad Amir, Shaheen Shah Afridi
Fall: 1-81, 2-98, 3-143, 4-224, 5-295, 6-304, 7-307
Bowling: Rabada 10-0-65-0; Ngidi 9-0-64-3; Morris 9-0-61-0; Phehlukwayo 8-0-49-1; Tahir 10-0-41-2; Markram 4-0-22-1
Hashim Amla lbw b Amir 2
†Q de Kock c Imam b Shadab 47
*F du Plessis c Sarfraz b Amir 63
A Markram b Shadab 7
H van der Dussen c Hafeez b Shadab 36
D Miller b Shaheen 31
A Phehlukwayo not out 46
C Morris b Wahab 16
K Rabada b Wahab 3
L Ngidi b Wahab 1
Imran Tahir not out 1
Extras (lb1, w5) 6
Total (9 wickets; 50 overs) 259
Fall: 1-4, 2-91, 3-103, 4-136, 5-189, 6-192, 7-222, 8-239, 9-246
Bowling: Hafeez 2-0-11-0; Amir 10-1-49-2; Shaheen 8-0-54-1; Imad 10-0-48-0; Riaz 10-0-46-3; Shadab 10-1-50-3
Result: Pakistan won by 49 runs
Man of the Match: Haris Sohail (Pakistan)
Umpires: Joel Wilson (West Indies) and Kumar Dharmasena (Sri Lanka). TV Umpire: Chris Gaffaney (New Zealand). Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka)
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