The Three Musketeers Help Boost Pakistan World Cup Hopes

Mohammed Irfan celebrates taking a wicket in Pakistan's 29 run win over South Africa.

Mohammed Irfan celebrates taking a wicket in Pakistan’s 29 run win over South Africa.

Pakistan produced a brilliant performance to win against all the odds against one of the pre tournament favourites South Africa. Pakistan in typical Pakistan fashion insisted on doing it the hard way – but this win by 29 runs via the Duckworth Lewis method sees the 1992 world champions on course for the quarter finals.

The 2009 and T20 World champions came into this match showing two changes, one was enforced and was tactical. Nasser Jamshed who has excelled for Pakistan at the top of the order in the past, has sadly struggled in this tournament, wicket keeper batsmen Sarfraz Ahmed took his place at the top of the order.

The other change sees the injured Harris Sohail miss out, with veteran Younus Khan back in the side and at number three in the batting order.

As for South Africa they just showed the one change, Farhaan Behardien makes way for the returning JP Duminy who was injured in the last match.

It was South Africa who won the toss and unsurprisingly opted to out Pakistan into bat. Proteas captain AB Devilliers appeared to have made the right choice, as this was the pitch which produced the low scoring thriller between the two hosts New Zealand and Australia.

Pakistan who have evidently struggled in the first 10 overs this tournament, seemed much more determined to bat better than what they have done in the first 10 overs of previous matches. The Green shirts as they are also known, Pakistan were very circumspect in the first 10 .

To their credit, Pakistan were batting really well and there was no need to panic as far as Pakistan are concerned. Sarfraz Ahmed in particularly was playing with purpose as the 27 year old was playing out of his crease at any given opportunity, maybe to just look to unsettle the South African attack.

South Africa though were on the whole very well disciplined – but didn’t bowl many short balls considering this pitch did have extra bounce in it. Pakistan and more in particular Ahmed Shehzhad after weathering the initial storm if you will but began to play more expansive .

The Pakistani opener played some beautiful straight drives as he looked to move through the gears – but Shehzhad’s innings would come to an end due to a brilliant catch from one of the South African players you would least expect.

Dale Steyn who is famed for his bowling took a quite brilliant catch to remove Pakistan’s opener. Ahmed Shezhad who was starting to gain a bit of confidence after those drives, decided to take on Kyle Abbot – but managed to only find Dale Steyn who quite brilliantly dived backwards to catch a ball in midair.

After that setback Shehzhad’s opening partner Sarfraz Ahmed exploded and hit 23 of a JP Duminy over which included three massive sixes. Ahmed seemed well set to get a 50 – but rather needlessly ran him self out when trying to chase two runs for his 50, it was poor judgement from Pakistan’s wicket keeper who tried to take on one of South Africa’s better fielders in David Miller.

After Pakistan lost their second just before the 100 came up, Younus Khan and captain Misbah Ul-Haq looked to regroup and consolidate their ascendancy. The Pakistani’s plan at that point was working – but when Younus Khan unforgivably lost his wicket for 37 playing a nothing shot off the part time bowling of De Villiers, Pakistan were again on the back foot at 132-3.

In came Sohaib Maqsood, a very capable middle order batsmen – but just like Khan, Maqsood also played a careless shot, South Africa at that point were looking to turn the screw. When Umar Akmal came in, a player who has performed reasonably well this world cup, the Green Shirts must have thought that any threat of a middle order collapse were dispelled.

Sadly however just like the other batsmen before him, Umar Akmal played a needless shot which De Villers gladly caught with out knowing to much about it due to the bad light. Soon after that dismissal the rain came and the players had to go off – but thankfully there was no detriment on the game, which made Akmal’s dismissal all the more unnecessary.

After being in a position of utter dominance, Pakistan contributed to their own down fall. When the players did come back out, the Pakistani’s crumbled from being 175-5 after Akmal’s dismissal, Pakistan were all out for 222.

The 1992 world champions in a game they could do with winning looked to have made a score which was at least 25 runs short of a par score.

South Africa in a match which was made to 47 overs a side due to rain interruptions, came out to bat knowing that if they successfully chase this total down, they’re all but through to the quarter finals – and that’s when the drama unfolded.

The Proteas couldn’t have got off to a worse start, Quinton De Kock who is struggling for form with the bat, also struggled for runs today. De Kock departed for a duck to leave South Africa in deep trouble at 0-1.

It was left to the experienced pair of Hashim Amla and Faf Du Plessis to rebuild the innings, and that they did superbly. Amla and Du Plessis put on 67 for the second wicket – but when Du Plessis was caught behind by Sarfraz Ahmed off the bowling Rahat Ali, Pakistan’s left arm seam trio of Mohammed Irfan, Rahat Ali and Wahab Riaz got to work and essentially blew South Africa away.

Hashim Amla soon followed Du Plessis. Riley Rossouw who has impressed in South Africa’s last two games where they have scored 400, sadly for South African fans failed to make a big contribution as the RCB player just made six.

Rossouw wasn’t the only player to get a low score as Duminy and Miller were both dismissed cheaply, the latter being dismissed for a duck. In fact in South Africa’s lower order it was Dale Steyn who got the highest score with 16.

South Africa after doing brilliantly to restrict Pakistan, looked like they had quite clearly pressed self destruct as the Proteas managed to slump to 172-8. The South African’s hadn’t done just yet – and still had AB De Villiers at the other end of the ensuing carnage
When De Villiers was ninth man out for a well played 72, you knew the game was up for South Africa. The game did duly end when Imran Tahir was demised two runs later to hand Pakistan a 29 run win via Duckworth Lewis method.

Pakistan with this win have most definitely reigned their hopes of a quarter final place. As for South Africa despite losing today their superior run rate gives them an edge of their rivals. Group B draws to a climax on Thursday 12th and Sunday 15th March.

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