Saturday, 23 October 2021

Pakistan’s bounce back against South Africa

Image Credit: AP

LONDON: A combined batting performance studded by Haris Sohail’s 59-ball 89 was backed up by the bowlers as Pakistan kept their hopes of progression at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 alive with a 49-run win against South Africa.

Chasing Pakistan’s 308/7, South Africa came undone against Mohammad Amir (2/49) and Shadab Khan (3/50) to remain with just one win from seven games so far. The World Cup caravan reached the Home of Cricket on Sunday, 23 June, and Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman treated the packed crowd at Lord’s to a series of glorious drives. The team fifty came in quick time, taking just 44 balls and including 38 runs in boundaries. Lungi Ngidi came in for particular punishment, Fakhar dispatching him for a big six over midwicket.

Chris Morris created a chance with Fakhar on 28, Imran Tahir diving forward to take a catch. With replays inconclusive, the umpires gave the batsman the benefit of the doubt. Tahir took matters into his own hands, however. In his first over, Fakhar’s attempted scoop ballooned up to the waiting Hashim Amla fielding at first slip; then, the veteran leapt to his right to complete a good low catch of Imam as both set batsmen were sent packing.

Babar Azam looked good in reaching his half-century, but it was Sohail who took apart the bowling. Playing only his second World Cup 2019 match and coming in at 143/3, he opened up with a four through covers off Kagiso Rabada, before slamming the same bowler over point for six. An 81-run stand with Azam was followed by a 71-run fifth-wicket partnership with Imad Wasim. Before Wasim chipped in with 23 off 15, Sohail had dominated, bringing up a half-century in just 38 balls.

Hashim Amla, who has been in indifferent form, was dismissed on Amir’s first ball, after a successful review for Pakistan showed the delivery hitting leg. Quinton de Kock and captain Faf du Plessis gave South Africa their best period of the game during a partnership of 87.

But with Shadab bowling full and in line, and Amir finding swing, they proved to be a handful. De Kock was well caught in the deep while attempting a slog sweep, Aiden Markram was done in by one that kept low and straight – both off Shadab – and du Plessis’ top-edge off Amir found Sarfaraz.

Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller got starts, but with moments of excellence in the field making up for missed chances, Pakistan never let the game get away. Wahab Riaz was on point with his yorkers and took three lower-order wickets in wrapping up an all-round satisfying day.

After the match, man of the match Haris Sohail said he was playing his World Cup game today and scored a really cool fifty. “It was very difficult to sit out of the games but I knew I would get the opportunity and I was backing myself to do well. When I went in there, the plan was to build partnership with Babar. it was not easy but we did well.”

Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed said: “I think it’s a complete team performance. Credit to the openers. They played really well. Then Babar took over.”

And Haris Sohail put in a great performance. We changed the combination in this game. Couple of games earlier, we went with other combination. That’s the only thing. Sometimes change is good for the team. Today the way Haris batted, he is hungry to play in the game. He’s the main factor, the turning point, the way he batted in the last 15 overs, it was like Jos Buttler.

“We have to work harder on fielding. Again we dropped so many catches today. All three matches now are very crucial and we have to sort it out. Complete bowling effort. Credit goes to Amir, took early wickets and in the middle overs as well. Shadab was really good in the middle overs as well. Thanks to the fans for their support,” he added.

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis said: “We’re not playing great cricket. Whole tournament we’ve been good with the ball, but today we gave them a really good start. Pulled it back in the middle, but giving them 300-plus was 20 too many. Not spin in particular. You need to have a good start with the bat. We’re losing a quick wicket almost all the time and then as we’re building partnerships we’re losing wickets. That’s just the nature of the tournament.

“Struggling with a bit of confidence in our batting line-up. And thats cost 30-40 runs. We have to try. We’ve put in the practice. We’re working hard. But confidence in sport is an amazing thing. When you’re playing well, the ball just falls for you. But at the moment, we’re down and when you play against a quality team like Pakistan, they put you under pressure. Imran Tahir has been amazing. He’s been exceptional. He’s played with a lot of heart and he’s led our bowling attack but there hasn’t been enough guys like Imran standing up. For me the biggest downside is that we’re not doing justice to ourselves as team. We are playing against great teams. We’ve seen how crazy it is. But we are letting ourselves down considering the skill that’s in that dressing room,” he added.

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