Saturday, March 7, 2015

Sarfraz, Misbah and Pakistan Quicks Stun Proteas

Pakistan vs South Africa, Eden park in Auckland on 7th March 2015 - Match Review

Pakistan Beat South Africa by 29 Runs (D/L Method).

It was an overcast day at Auckland and AB De Villiers won the toss and elected to field first. Surely the overhead clouds would help the South African quicks. Pakistan included Sarfraz Ahmed and Younis Khan in place of the out of form Nasir Jamshed and Haris Sohail who was out with a heel injury.

Sarfraz Ahmed and Ahmed Shehzad started off slowly but they looked in control and had seen off the early threat of Steyn and Abbot and were just beginning to impose themselves on the bowlers when Shehzad turned one off his hips in to the leg side and Steyn running backwards from mid on took a wonderful full length diving catch. That brought Younis Khan to the crease and AB tried himself and JP Duminy for a couple of overs. They were both taken to the cleaners by Younis and Sarfraz, one Duminy over costing over 20 runs! Pakistan were looking pretty comfortable, runs were coming and there was no threat but suddenly a brain fade from Sarfraz saw him get run out after he went for a non existing second run. He made 49. Younis also departed after a well made 37 to AB De Villiers much to the delight of the South African captain.

Dale Steyn pulled off a stunner to send Ahmed Shehzad on his way!!

Misbah was there holding an end and scoring like he always does but as always things were starting to fall at the other end. Sohaib Maqsood made just 8 before he gave the point fielder a simple catch off Kyle Abbot. Umar Akmal played a few deft shots before he too gave his wicket away, chipping a catch to De Villiers off Morkel. Shahid Afridi had just arrived at the crease but the rain also decided that it was time to make an appearance. Play was stopped for some time but no overs were reduced when play resumed. The rain returned again after 40 overs with Pakistan at 197-5. When play resumed this time the overs had been reduced to 47 per side. Pakistan would have looked to add around 70-80 runs in the last 7 overs but they were demolished by Steyn and Morkel as they lost their last 5 wickets for just 25 runs.

The D/L method adjusted South Africa's target to 232 off 47 overs as De Kock and Amla strode out to the middle. This was the ground where Australia had nearly pulled off a victory against New Zealand and Irfan produced a peach of a delivery to De Kock which he nicked behind. The delively came in to De Kock and left him at the last moment, also gaining height; South were 1 down with no score on the board. The ball was moving around and Pakistan were in with a big chance. But 38 runs were scored off the 3 overs from 6-8 thus nearly killing the chase!

The pendulum swung once again as Pakistan stuck back through Rahat Ali who dismissed Faf Du Plessis and David Miller and Wahab Riaz got Hashim Amla and Rilee Rossouw in successive overs. From 67-1 South Africa had slipped to 77-5 and much now depended on De Villiers and JP Duminy.
Duminy has a problem against the short ball and he was peppered by the Pakistani left arm quicks. He finally gave a catch off Irfan to Wahab Riaz who took it gleefully at deep fine leg! Steyn swung the bat and got a couple of fours but nicked behind, again off Irfan. Kyle Abbot also hung around for sometime with AB, who was trying his best to get as many runs as possible. He stuck Wahab Riaz for 2 sixes in an over and then hit Afridi for a six and a four.

It looked as if AB might just win it for the Proteas but AB fell for 58 ball 77 and Tahir soon followed him as SA were all out for 202. Sarfraz took 6 catches behind the wicket and the Pakistani left armers had a ball taking 9 wickets between them.

This Pakistan win means that they now have 6 points with the game against Ireland in hand. That will be a huge game and the winner will probably make the Quarter Finals. As for South Africa, they have lost to India and now Pakistan and the pre tournament favorites tag sits uncomfortably on their heads right now.

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

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