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Imam, Hafeez lead Pakistan to victory after bowlers restrict South Africa to 266

Discussion in 'Cricket Talk' started by Express Pace, Jan 19, 2019.

Imam, Hafeez lead Pakistan to victory after bowlers restrict South Africa to 266

Discussion in 'Cricket Talk' started by Express Pace, Jan 19, 2019.

by Express Pace
Jan 19, 2019 at 5:56 PM
  1. Express Pace

    Express Pace Cornered Tiger

    May 11, 2012
    It didn't come without the signature Pakistan wobble, promising to derail the whole thing. But Pakistan got their tour off and running with what, in the circumstances, must be considered a clinical victory even if it did come in the final over. It came thanks to a glorious 86 at the top of the order from Imam-ul-Haq and a classy half-century from Mohammad Hafeez at the end in a chase that was - for 40 overs at least - scripted to perfection.

    South Africa appeared to have left some runs out there with some conservative batting, despite a century from Hashim Amla and Rassie van der Dussen's 93 on debut. In an absorbing game of fine margins, that made all the difference in the end as Pakistan wrapped up a five-wicket win.

    Chasing 267, more than Pakistan have ever successfully overhauled against South Africa in South Africa, they began steadily enough, even if the out-of-form Fakhar Zaman was streaky for the duration of his cameo at the top. It was the partnership between Imam and Babar Azam that broke the back of the chase, the 94 runs they added keeping the asking rate in check. More importantly, they arrived in comfortable fashion, with none of South Africa's storied fast bowlers able to make the slightest inroad, giving the impression this would be a cakewalk.

    It was the innocuous spin bowling of Reeza Hendricks that broke the pair up. It is safe to say Hendricks doesn't bowl too many jaffas in a spell, but even by those standards, the ball which got rid of Pakistan's best batsman was well below average. Hendricks had dropped one in far too short, and as Babar looked to guide it to third man for the single that would bring him a half century, he miscalculated the line, allowing it to crash into his stumps.

    Still, the ball wasn't doing much and there was little South Africa could do to stop Pakistan keeping the asking rate under six. It was only when the chase came down to the final stages, and Imran Tahir's influence began to grow, that Pakistan began to panic slightly. Once Shoaib Malik chopped Andile Phehlukwayo on with 49 needed, Pakistan began to feel the pressure and the dots grew more plentiful. Sarfraz Ahmed was struck in front and, shortly after, the asking rate rose to seven an over.

    Hafeez, however, was playing the type of innings he has so often throughout his career in the middle overs without quite getting the credit it merits. On a slow surface, he timed the ball better than almost anyone from either side - perhaps even Amla - regularly finding the boundary that would relieve the pressure. Twice, when he sought to go over the top, he did so effectively reading the pace and bounce off the surface. He might not have hit the winning runs, but when the last ball of the penultimate over was smashed to the midwicket boundary, bringing the scored level, he did all but.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 19, 2019
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Discussion in 'Cricket Talk' started by Express Pace, Jan 19, 2019.

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