Auckland: Skipper AB de Villiers’ spirited knock of 58-ball 77 went in vain as South Africa lost to Pakistan by 29 runs via the Duckworth-Lewis method in a World Cup Pool B match at the Eden Park here on Saturday.
Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (56) had registered his fourth half-century in the tournament but that didn’t stop South Africa from bowling Pakistan for 222 runs in 46.4 overs. Pakistan were decently placed at 197-5 in 40.1 overs when rain halted the play and it shortened the innings by three overs.
Due to the Duckworth-Lewis rules, the target was revised and South Africa needed 232 in 47 overs. But they were bowled out for 202 runs in 33.2 overs as three young Pakistan left-arm seamers Mohammad Irfan (3-52), Rahat Ali (3-40) and Wahab Riaz (3-45) made life difficult.
Even though Hashim Amla (38) and Faf du Plessis played well in the early part of the innings, they kept losing wickets regularly.
De Villiers once again stamped his authority and kept his side in hunt with his 43rd One-Day International (ODI) fifty. He hit seven fours and five sixes and became highest run-scorer (318) in the World Cup so far.
However, he edged a medium pacer Sohail Khan delivery to the hands of wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed with the win still 32 runs away and only one wicket remaining. De Villiers’ wicket ended the South Afican hopes and they fell short by 29 runs.
Wicketkeeper Sarfraz, playing in his first match of the tournament, scored 49 crucial runs and plucked six wickets to become man-of-the-match. The 27-year-old also equalled the record of most catches in an ODI.
With this win, Pakistan boosted their chances of reaching the quarterfinals with three wins from five matches and they will play Ireland in their final Pool game on March 15. South Africa slumped to their second loss in five games but still stand a strong chance of last eight berth. They will face the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on March 12,
Earlier, Ahmed Shahzad (18) perished early to pacer Kyle Abbot. But Sarfrar (49) did well to forge a 62-run stand with experienced Younis Khan (37).
Sarfraz, looked in fine form. Despite being promoted as a makeshift opener, his shot selections were good against both pace and spin. He milked five fours and three huge sixes before being run out at his personal score of 49.
Skipper Misbah, who will quit ODI cricket post this World Cup, made full use of his experience. Even though Younis, Sohaib Maqsood (8) and Umar Akmal (13) perished in front of him, the 40-year-old once again rose to the occasion.
Mixing with ones and twos and odd boundaries, he kept the scoreboard ticking. He recorded his fourth half-century in five matches and also scored 41st fifty before rain halted the play.
South Africa bowled exceedingly well after the rain, and executed the slow bouncers and yorkers in the death overs to perfection. Pace spearhead Dale steyn dismissed both the unbeaten batsmen Misbah and veteran Shahid Afridi (22) and the lower-order batsmen failed to contribute.
Afridi meanwhile played a cameo of 22 in 15 balls as the Proteas choked runs at the death overs.
For South Africa, Steyn showed them the way by picking three crucial wickets, while fast bowlers Abbot and Morne Morkel picked up two wickets apiece. Leg-spinner Imran Tahir and de Villiers took a wicket each.
The Proteas bowlers good work was equally matched by the Pakistan bowlers, who ended up on the winning side.
Brief scores: Pakistan 222 in 46.4 overs (Misbah-ul-Haq 56, Sarfraz Ahmed 49; Dale steyn 3-30, Morne Morkel 2-25, Kyle Abbot 2-45) beat South Africa 202 in 33.3 overs.