Sunday, 17 October 2021

Proteas beat Pakistan to level series

(Photo by Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images)

DURBAN: Andile Phehlukwayo’s all-round show (4/22 and 69*) and Rassie van der Dussen’s unbeaten 80 helped South Africa beat Pakistan by five wickets in the second ODI at Kingsmead in Durban, on Tuesday.

There’s hardly a South Africa run-chase devoid of drama. The hosts were rattled early by Shaheen Afridi, who was breathing fire with the new ball, getting rid of Proteas’ top guns – Hashim Amla, Reeza Hendricks and Faf du Plessis – leaving them reeling at 29/3 in pursuit of 204. Miller and van der Dussen started the repair work and struck a flurry of boundaries to grab the momentum back from Pakistan. With the new-ball bowlers coming to the end of their opening spells, a major assault could have been on the cards. But they navigated through the difficult phase to take South Africa to safer shores.

Sarfaraz then decided to introduce his trump card – Shadab Khan – in the 15th over and the leg-spinner reaped rewards instantly extracting purchase on a track that showed some wear and tear. Two wickets in two balls off his first over pegged South Africa back. However, van der Dussen adapted to the conditions with ease and right from the beginning, he played with a touch of calmness. The 29-year-old absorbed the pressure impressively and registered his second consecutive fifty in ODIs. Unfazed by wickets falling at the other end, he carried on to keep the scorecard ticking.

Phehlukwayo played his part too in the hard-fought victory. His intent seemed clear when he swiped Shadab Khan off his second ball over mid-wicket, and it became clearer when he smacked Mohammad Hafeez for two sixes in the 24th over. After scalping his career-best of 4/22 with the ball, the southpaw played a crucial hand with the bat. A record unbeaten partnership of 127 runs between the duo shut the door for the visitors.

Earlier, Hasan Ali and Sarfraz Ahmed resurrected Pakistan’s essay, powering them to a challenging score. The former notched up his second ODI fifty in the 44th over driving a low full toss off Duanne Olivier to cover and followed it up with an elaborate celebration – he jumped in the air, pumped his fist and dedicated his knock to his team-mate Shadab.

Incidentally, Pakistan had found themselves in troubled waters when Hasan walked in to join his skipper. They scored 90 runs together in 79 balls but the real blitz that propelled Pakistan to a respectable total came from Hasan. The effort brought the visitors back in the game, but losing a cluster of wickets in the middle period meant they were forced to play catch-up for a significant amount of time. The promising stand came to an end when Sarfraz was bowled by Phehlukwayo in the 46th over and Pakistan capitulated for 203, a total that wasn’t enough to halt South Africa on the day.

“I’ve got a role to play,” said man of the match Andile Phehlukwayo. “If you hit the deck hard, there was a bit in there. I was a bit nervous to begin with when I batted. Rassie did a good job of calming me down. I stuck to my plans and played with intensity. There was some good chat. Shadab was one of the hardest to pick. At the end of the day, it was good cricket. I’m a positive person, I really like scoring boundaries and making runs.”

“We didn’t get a good start, and we gave away too many soft wickets. Hasan Ali batted really well and put some hope into the team. We had a chance when we had them 80 for 5, but Phehlukwayo and the other batsman batted really well,” said Sarfraz Ahmed.

“What you’re looking for in a situation like that from two young guys is to learn a lot,” said winning captain Faf du Plessis. “To get through an innings like that will give them a lot. Andile is playing for that no. 7 slot so this was a big innings. In a perfect world, we should have chased 140 or 150, so it was a bit too many. An amazing start to his international career for Rassie. What you look for in new players is composure and calmness at the crease. Tonight was a bit like playing in the subcontinent, hopefully we’ll get a bit of pace in the next pitch. Dale will be back, and so will Quinny. But the great thing about this game was two guys taking their opportunity.”

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