Colombo: Pakistan pulled off a stunning victory over South Africa by two wickets in their first match of the Super Eights of the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 match at the Premadasa Stadium yesterday.
Restricting South Africa to 133 for 6 through their famed spinners, Pakistan’s batting collapsed to 76 for 7 in 14.3 overs. But then Umar Akmal and Umar Gul, through a fighting 49-run partnership in 4.3 overs for the eighth wicket, helped the Pakistanis win the match by two wickets with two balls to spare.
Gul’s onslaught began with him hitting Jacques Kallis for two consecutive sixes in the 16th over. He also hit Albie Morkel for a six and a boundary in the next over. The pair moved from strength to strength with every over.
Gul fell for 32 (17b, 2x4, 3x6) when Pakistan needed nine runs to win from six balls. Akmal hit Albie Morkel for a six to deep mid-wicket to draw Pakistan close to victory. Saeed Ajmal then edged Albie Morkel to the boundary to usher in the victory. Akmal remained unconquered with 43 runs off 41 balls with four boundaries and one six.
It was a disappointing defeat for South Africa who had won the toss and elected to bat. Pakistan opened their bowling attack for the first time with their 20-year-old left-arm spinner Raza Hasan. Off the last ball of Hasan’s first over, he would have got a wicket had wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal held on to the edge from Hashim Amla.
Fortunately for Pakistan, though, Amla fell in the next over to pacer Yasir Arafat. Amla failed to judge Arafat’s slower delivery and played it early into the hands of Shoaib Malek in the covers for 6. Jacques Kallis would have out been out for a duck to the next ball had a throw from Raza from square leg not missed the stumps at the striker’s end.
Young Raza then bowled an excellent maiden over to Kallis. Saeed Ajmal, who was introduced in the sixth over, had opener Richard Levi bowled while attempting a reverse sweep for 8. He went on to take a wicket maiden over too.
To make matters worse for South Africa, Kallis got out to Mohammad Hafeez’s first delivery, driving him upwardly into Shahid Afridi’s hands at cover for 12. In the first ten overs, South Africa could score only 47 for 3, suggesting a low-scoring match.
Jean Paul Duminy lifted Mohammad Hafeez’s for a six over long-on, but two balls later he had Farhaan Behardien stumped by Akmal for 18. A worried skipper AB De Villiers joined Duminy, who was striking the ball beautifully.
De Villiers hit Umar Gul for a six but fell to the next ball while attempting another lofted shot over point to be caught on the boundary by Imran Nazir for 25. Duminy also hit a six off Arafat and fell two runs short of his half-century, edging Arafat to the wicket-keeper. South Africa were thus restricted to an unimpressive total.
Chasing a run rate of 6.70 runs per over, Pakistan’s openers began in style. Hafeez hit Dale Steyn’s third and fourth ball of the first over for boundaries, while Imran Nazir picked two boundaries off the fourth and fifth ball of Albie Morkel’s first over.
With the last ball of his second over, Steyn struck by dismissing Nazir who, while attempting a pull shot, gloved the ball to wicketkeeper De Villiers. The openers put on 24 runs in three overs; Hafeez hit slow left-arm spinner Robin Peterson’s first delivery for a six but got out to the next ball stumped by De Villiers for 15. Peterson also had Nasir Jamshed stumped for a duck off the last ball of his first over to put South African back into the game.
South African introduced another spinner in Johan Botha and he clean bowled Kamran Akmal for 1. At the end of the tenth over, Pakistan were 55 for 4. Shoaib Malek and Umar Akmal added 26 runs in 5.3 overs for the fifth wicket when Kallis had Malek caught at third man. Shahid Afridi once again did not disturb the scorers and fell for a duck before Akmal and Gul took charge.