South Africa 271 for 9 (Markram 91, Afridi 3-45) won Pakistan 270 (Shakeel 52, Babar 50, Shamsi 4-60, Janssen 3-43) by one wicket.
The one-point win moves them level with India on ten points at the top of the table, but ahead on net run rate, despite having played an extra game.
The delicate balance seemed to be swinging South Africa’s way once again as Janssen joined forces with Markram and the duo began to infiltrate the equation rather than tread carefully, being the last pair of recognized South African batsmen. The ball after Haris Rauf hit again over his head for a flat six in the 37th over, Jansen sent a slower ball to Babar Azam at point, leaving the South African 36 off the target with four wickets in hand.
Fourteen runs later, leg-spinner Osama Mir, who came into this match in the 15th over of South Africa’s chase as a concussion replacement for Shadab Khan, picked up the second wicket: Markram’s attempt to rise which led to a leading edge fell to Babar’s hands for a single. once again. The last known South African batsman was gone and his team was still 22 years behind.
Afridi then found the outside edge of Gerald Coetzee and Rauf made a one-handed catch to dismiss Lungi Ngidi. By then, they had clawed their way to within 11 rounds of victory. On another day, umpire Alex Wharf might have upheld Raouf’s appeal against No. 11 Al Shamsi off the last ball of the 46th over. Not tonight. Pakistan reviewed the no-out decision, only to watch in agony as ball tracking showed its impact on the umpire’s call.
After nine balls, it was over. After 25 matches, the 2023 ODI World Cup saw its first thrill, and South Africa did not choke.
While South Africa’s batting performance may have been strained, their bowling efforts – their weakest discipline so far in the tournament – were impressive on a flat surface. Having elected to play, Pakistan made decisive use of the short ball from Janssen and Coetzee and the smart selection of Al Shamsi, who turned the ball in both directions, to reduce their scoring lead.
Ngidi returned from a knee injury that kept him out of the Bangladesh game to open the bowling alongside Janssen and the duo started with a short delivery of the ball. One of Janssen’s men went past the heads of Abdullahi Shafiq and Quinton de Kock to say goodbye, while another of Ngidi went to the border post, but the South African’s relentless approach did not take long to pay off. In Janssen’s third over, Shafiq holed out off Ngidi at deep square leg.
In Janssen’s next over, South Africa brought Heinrich Klaasen into deep slip/short third and Janssen went full and wide. Imam-ul-Haq got to it, edged and was caught out to leave Pakistan 38 for 2 in the seventh over.
Markram was introduced in the eighth over – most likely for the match with Babar who was not at his best against spin – and Rizwan continued to live dangerously. He sliced Markram’s cover wide and batted for his 2,000th ODI career and then hit the boundaries of Janssen, Markram and Maharaj to galvanize Pakistan.
With spin at both ends, Rizwan and Babar steadily built and their third-wicket stand increased to 49 before Bavuma recalled Coetzee. When used in an enforcer role, Coetzee was hitting 140km/h and around the helmet from the start and it didn’t take long for him to make an impact. His fifth ball was a bouncer that went past Rizwan to De Kock.
Pakistan then promoted Iftikhar Ahmed to number five for the first time in his career, ahead of Saud Shakeel who is known for playing spin well. He scored just five runs off the first 14 balls he faced, then hit Maharaj over cow corner for a six, Ngidi over mid-on for four, and then, just after the mid-on phase, failed to read Shamsi Gogle and hit it to Klaasen at mid-off. on me.
All the while, Babar was moving forward and went on to produce his third half-century of this World Cup campaign off 64 balls. Pakistan needed him to bat, but a review from De Kock, who thought Babar had fallen off a broken leg from Shamsi, ended his vigil.
Shakeel and Shadab combined for an 84-run sixth-wicket stand as South Africa’s deadly bowling struggles looked to have come early. Runs were launched from the spinners and Coetzee, who eventually broke the podium with a distinctive bumper. Shadab tried to clear midwicket but gave Maharaj just a touch. Fifteen balls later, Shakeel delivered his pace on a Shamsi delivery near the stump and clipped it. Pakistan had already used their final over earlier in the innings and the effect of the extent of the backlash was evident when neither Afridi nor Mohammad Nawaz were out and Pakistan were bowled out for 20 balls.
Pakistan gave Iftikhar an upgrade with the ball too, and he bowled the first delivery of the chase down leg for five overs. After that, Shadab hit his head on the grass while playing and was later replaced by sub player Osama who suffered a concussion. The eventful start to South Africa’s innings continued when De Kock, the World Cup’s top run scorer, took 18 runs off Afridi’s opener. However, Afridi eventually managed to catch de Kock on the deep square leg boundary.
More to follow …
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