ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2019
Pakistan’s win keeps their slender World Cup hopes intact © Getty
A rollicking all-round show from Pakistan, first since their victory over England exactly 20 days ago, sank South Africa’s below-par World Cup campaign. The Faf du Plessis’s side was put out of their misery thanks to Pakistan’s solid start that was well-consolidated by Babar Azam and Haris Sohail, before Shadab Khan, Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir shared the spoils with the ball, catching South Africa 49-run short in chase of their 308.
South Africa went into the second innings with lots to play for, but that didn’t serve as a motivation enough for them to avoid yet another batting failure, even with Pakistan being generous on the field with six dropped catches. Mohammad Amir extended his rich vein of World Cup form and snuffed out the woefully out-of-sorts Hashim Amla off his first ball, using the Lord’s slope to great effect while bowling from the pavilion end.
Amir got the ball to shape in and then straighten after pitching that pinged Amla on the knee roll while he tried to flick it away. The appeal was turned down and Sarfaraz took an excellent punt with a review as the ball, on first viewing, looked like it could go down the leg side.
The impact of that early wicket resonated in the manner in which Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock approached the next 10-12 overs, attempting a re-build, but of a rather slow nature. Sarfaraz Ahmed mixed his bowling options around after the first PowerPlay to deny the pair a chance to completely get their eye in, while building up the scoreboard pressure.
The high percentage of dot balls was bound to get to the experienced batting pair at some point, which in this case, came in the 20th over off Shadab Khan. De Kock got going against Wahab in the previous over, but an attempt to slog sweep a fullish ball from the leggie proved fatal. A couple of overs later, Aiden Markram would follow suit after yet another abysmal outing, trying and missing a cut shot off Shadab and having his stumps disturbed.
One of the rare pluses of South Africa’s World Cup campaign, Rassie van der Dussen, walked out next, but he was left with a lot to do by the 30th over, when Faf du Plessis’s hard grind was ended by Amir. Bowling from the other end this time, a length ball went with the angle and took the top-edge off du Plessis’s across-the-line swipe and was pouched by Sarfaraz, ending the SA skipper’s 79-ball stay for his 63.
Van der Dussen was joined by a slightly immobile David Miller, who had to spend some time off the field during Pakistan’s innings due to a groin strain. He hobbled while batting too, but the fifth-wicket pair straightened the mess to an extent, adding 53 off 60 balls. The 61st though, brought Mickey Arthur to his feet in the Lord’s balcony, when Van der Dussen went looking for a big hit and top-edged it to Mohammad Hafeez at cover instead.
By this point the writing was on the wall for the struggling South Africa, who were losing batsmen to wild swipes. David Miller was next to hop onto that bandwagon, giving Shaheen Afridi a wicket. Chris Morris and Andile Phehlukwayo threw caution to the winds – the only way South Africa could go if they stood a chance of overcoming an asking rate upward of 10-an-over – but that only lasted for four overs. Wahab Riaz delivered the knockout punch on South Africa with three wickets in successive overs – cleaning up Morris, Rabada and Ngidi.
Pakistan will take a lot of heart from this bowling performance going forward, but the foundation stone of a comprehensive win was laid down by the batters, who took full advantage of Sarfaraz Ahmed’s victory at the coin toss. Kagiso Rabada, who has been underwhelming by his lofty standards, endured another tough day in the field, while Lungi Ngidi – his new ball partner – too was rendered ineffective in the first PowerPlay by Imam Ul Haq and Fakhar Zaman.
An agitated Imran Tahir was in the middle of a catch appeal that was turned down by the TV umpire, but he redeemed himself with the wickets of both the openers. There was a lengthy middle-overs period when South Africa grabbed the game by the scruff of its neck, but Pakistan found a way back through the partnership between Babar Azam and Haris Sohail.
Sohail particularly proved to be the catalyst for Pakistan’s total of 308, as he broke the shackles following the lull that saw Mohammad Hafeez struggle and eventually perish for a 33-ball 20. Sohail’s attacking intent was the perfect yin to Babar’s yang at the other end, who calmly reached another half-century. He fell in the 42nd over while trying to join Sohail in nudging Pakistan towards a big total, but that didn’t deter the No.5 batsman. Sohail added the second fastest 50-run stand with Imad Wasim (26 balls), in which the latter contributed just eight runs.
By the time Ngidi dismissed Wasim, the partnership had yielded 71 runs off just 40 balls, giving Pakistan a comfortable shot at a 300-plus total. Sohail’s splendid 89 ensured they finished on 308 for 7, a total too far beyond South Africa’s limited reach.
Brief Scores: Pakistan 308/7 in 50 overs (Haris Sohail 89, Babar Azam 69; Lungi Ngidi 3-64) beat South Africa 259/9 in 50 overs (Faf du Plessis 63, Quinton de Kock 47, Andile Phehlukwayo 46*; Wahab Riaz 3-46, Shadab Khan 3-50) by 49 runs