South Africa cruised to a seven wicket victory over Pakistan with 60 balls to spare at PPC Newlands in Cape Town on Wednesday evening to seal the five-match series 3-2.
Faf du Plessis had won the toss and bucked the trend by asking his counterpart, Shoaib Malik, to bat first. Teams chasing under lights at Newlands have only tasted success six times in 29 attempts prior to tonights game but the Proteas’ record run chase made the victory all the more sweeter.
The previous successful run chase under lights at Newlands was South Africa’s 229 for five against Zimbabwe some 22 years ago but the home side reached their target with ease, finishing on 241 for three after Pakistan had been restricted to 240 for eight in their allotted 50 overs.
“I think a competitive total would have been 280 to 290, so we were about 40 runs short. If you want to win matches then the top three should play longer, to around the 40th over to finish the game,” said Imam at the post-match press conference.
“Fakhar got a start and unfortunately he got out at the wrong time and if he could have played longer, then maybe we could have got 260 or 270 and the result could be different,” added Imam.
The victory came via a smashing six down the ground by Rassie van der Dussen, which also moved the right-handed batsman to his third ODI fifty in five games since making his debut in the first ODI in Port Elizabeth, where he made 93.
“He’s done very well, he’s a credit to himself. When he has needed to be aggressive, he’s been aggressive and the one thing i like about him is that he’s very calm at the crease. He knows exactly how he wants to set up his innings,” said Otis Gibson at the post-match press conference about Van der Dussen.
Dale Steyn (1-51) had given the home side the perfect start when he removed the series’ leading run-scorer, Imam-ul-Haq for just eight.
“It’s not about the critics. It’s about fighting for myself and I just want to perform for my country,” said Pakistan’s man of the series Imam-ul-Haq.
Fakhar Zaman (70) and Babar Azam (24) looked set to give their side a good platform with which to launch a big total with a stand worth 56 from 63 balls but Dwaine Pretorius (2-46) brought an end to the stand when he bowled Babar behind his legs, sending his leg stump cartwheeling.
“I thought we bowled really well, everyone bowled well. Even though Dale went for a lot of runs he was aggressive – he did his job,” said the Proteas coach of his bowling unit.
Fakhar though would not be kept down, despite being given a life on 20 by Hashim Amla, who put the left-hander down at first slip off Kagiso Rabada (1-43). Fakhar and Mohammad Hafeez (17) added 44 runs for the third wicket off 47 balls but the introduction of Andile Phehlukwayo (2-42) as the sixth bowler brought an end to the stand and with it, a strangle-hold on the Pakistan batting effort.
“From the beginning their openers were always going to be a threat, especially Zaman. He got some runs but not the explosive runs that he normally gets and he got out to the short ball which is something that we discussed,” said Gibson.
Phehlukwayo had Hafeez caught behind by Quinton de Kock before claiming the wicket of Fakhar, well caught on the boundary by Imran Tahir. Pakistan struggled to put any form of partnerships together which was evident in their final total as wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan (10) and spinner Shadab Khan (19) failed to kick on.
Captain Malik tried valiantly with 31 from 44 balls but it was left-arm spinner Imad Wasim who gave the visitors some hope with a dashing cameo at the backend, cracking four boundaries and two sixes to end unbeaten on 47 from only 31 deliveries.
Tahir, although wicketless, was the most economical bowler for the home side, opening the bowling with Steyn and only conceding 36 runs in his 10 overs.
In reply, man of the match De Kock and Amla (14) gave the home side a decent start but the home crowd were left with heads in hands as De Kock launched Usman Shinwari (1-43) high into the air to be caught but was called back as the bowler had over-stepped with South Africa’s total on 19 in the third over.
De Kock used his life to the full, smashing 11 boundaries and three maximums to register his 18th ODI half-century from just 42 balls. Amla fell cheaply, edging Shaheen Afridi (1-34) behind to Riwan but this brought Reeza Hendricks (34) to the crease.
“Quinny played in true Quinny fashion and took the game away from them in the first 20 overs and the rest Faf and Rassie saw it out nicely, and that’s the sort of way that we want to play cricket,” said Gibson.
“In the back of our minds we wanted to finish it in 40 overs because we wanted to play that sort of positive cricket,” added Gibson.
Hendricks and De Kock scored at more than a run a ball to set up the chase perfectly. The pair added 61 runs for the second wicket form only 52 deliveries before a rash shot from Hendricks saw the top-order batsman caught by Afridi from the the bowling of Mohammad Amir (1-40).
But De Kock was well-supported by Du Plessis as the pair added 46 runs for the third wicket off 34 balls but De Kock, in a hurry to get to another century and to finish the game, went after Shinwari once too often, launching the left-arm seamer high into the air where a good swirling catch was taken by the substitute fielder, Hasan Ali, with De Kock’s innings coming to an end after just 58 deliveries.
That would be the last success that Pakistan tasted as Du Plessis and Van der Dussen paced the remainder of the chase perfectly, thanks to the platform laid by De Kock and Hendricks. Du Plessis brought up his fifty off 72 balls with three fours while Van der Dussen needed 61 balls, which did not include any boundaries but had three sixes in it.
The pair also ended with an unbeaten stand of 95 for the fourth wicket from 121 deliveries.
**Published on Supersport.com**