Things took another turn in Group B of the ICC Champions Trophy post the Pakistan Vs South Africa clash. Pakistan kept their semi-final hopes alive after a spirited bowling performance helped them defeat South Africa by 19 runs (D/L method) in another rain-curtailed match of Group B of ICC Champions Trophy 2017.
However, Proteas became the latest victim of the wrath of the weather as they tasted their first defeat of the competition after the match was stopped at crucial juncture.
Here are 5 talking points from the match which has opened up group B and the qualification chances-
South African batsmen lose the plot after a decent start
AB de Villiers’ decision of opting to bat after winning the toss seemed to be a correct call as South African openers Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla added 40 runs in 8 overs, showing very little sign of difficulty against Mohammad Amir and Junaid Khan. A few edges flew and dropped short, but the batting duo kept the scoreboard ticking. However, the introduction of spin in the 9th over did the trick as Imad Wasim trapped the dangerous Amla LBW for 16 and making an early inroad.
Spurred on by the success, Sarfaraz brought off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez from the other end, and suddenly a brake was applied on the run-rate. Trying to break the shackles with an ambitious sweep, de Kock became Hafeez’s first scalp of the innings in the 14th over. Pakistan’s icing on the cake came in the next over when de Villers was dismissed for a golden duck by Imad. From 40/0, South Africa plunged into trouble at 62/3 in 15 overs.
Hasan Ali runs riot through South Africa middle order
Trying to claw their way back in the tie, Faf du Plessis and David Miller adopted a cautious approach against the Pakistan spinners, unwilling to go for the big shots in the early part of their innings. They were successful to resurrecting the innings to some extent but problems compounded when Hasan Ali replaced Imad after the latter’s 7-over spell.
Ali struck gold with his very second delivery, accounting for du Plessis as the South African batsman’s inside edge disturbed the stumps which made him his team’s fourth casualty.
While Sarafaz chose to bowl out Hafeez from one end, it was Ali who looked threatening to take a wicket off his every over. The seamer’s ploy of coming round the wicket to the southpaws Miller and Duminy worked wonders as Ali forced Duminy to nick one to the slips while attempting an expansive drive. Babar Azam held on and South Africa had lost half of their side. The situation worsened the very next ball as new man in Wayne Parnell was castled by an absolute peach of a delivery from Ali. The scoreboard showed 118/6 with Ali’s figures as 4-0-10-3.
Miller’s unbeaten 75 powers South Africa to 219/8
With the team looking down the barrel, someone needed to step up and take up the mantle. David Miller shouldered the responsibility and with crucial contributions from the lower order ensured South Africa crossed 200.
Chris Morris and Miller kept the Pakistan bowlers at bay for more than 12 overs as they added 47 runs for the 7th wicket. Miller was adjudged LBW off Amir in the 40th over, but DRS saved him. Nevertheless, two overs later, Morris innings of 28 was cut short after he holed out in the deep off Junaid.
A quickfire 23-ball 26 by Kagiso Rabada provided the late impetus in South African innings as they finished on 219/8 in 50 overs, giving their bowlers a total to bowl at. Junaid had his second wicket in form Rabada, but 25 runs of the 48th and 49th over meant it was the batting side who went back with the momentum at the interval. Laced with a boundary and three sixes, Miller remained unbeaten on 75, but Hasan Ali was the star of the show with this 3-for 24 in 8 overs.
Fakhar Zaman takes Pakistan off to a flier before Morkel strikes
Replacing Ahmed Shehzad, debutant Fakhar Zaman was Azhar Ali’s new opening partner as Pakistan looked for a sedate start in pursuit of 220. While the experienced Ali chose to play safe in the first over of the innings, the youngster displayed a wide array of shots in his very first game, taking a liking for Parnell in particular. Rabada was not spared either as Zaman raced to 29 off 19 balls with the help of six fours.
A worried-looking ABD brought Morne Morkel in the attack and move instantly paid dividends. In his second over and the eighth of the innings, Morkel accounted for both the Pakistan openers within three balls. First Morkel’s step bounce proved to be a handful for Zaman who fell for 31. Two balls later, Azhar Ali had to take the long walk back after his attempted ramp shot over the slips sailed to Imran Tahir at third man. With a few raindrops already on offer, Pakistan was precariously placed at 42/2.
Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik’s composure wins it for Pakistan
A 52-run stand for the third wicket between Azam and Hafeez put Pakistan in cruise mode as they was always ahead of the DL par-score. Hafeez’s (26) wicket in the 24th over changed the equations but still Pakistan were frontrunners to clinch the tie as 20 overs were already bowled in the innings.
With the skies looking ominous and seeming to open up at any moment, new bat-in Shoaib Malik’s experience came handy as his unbeaten 14-ball 16 propelled Pakistan to 119/3 in 27 overs when the umpires had to call for the covers.
Even after a long wait, play could not resume, thereby handing Pakistan an all-important 19-run win as the DL-par score after 27 overs was 100. Azam remained unbeaten on 31, while Morkel was the sole wicket taker in their innings with 3/18 in 7 overs. Hasan Ali was adjudged the Player of the Match for his splendid bowling performance.
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