In a thrilling match at the Cricket World Cup, South Africa held on to prevent Pakistan’s comeback.
South Africa claimed the top spot in the World Cup standings and ended their 24-year streak of not beating Pakistan in the tournament. However, the Proteas faced a tough challenge as their opponents mounted a late comeback, resulting in a tense one-wicket win.
Attempting to achieve their fifth victory in six matches, South Africa made a promising start in their pursuit of 271 runs. Quinton de Kock (24) and Temba Bavuma (28) delivered early successes, while Aiden Markram’s composed 91 and partnership of 70 runs with David Miller seemed to give them a comfortable lead at 206 for four.
Usama Mir, who took two wickets for 45 runs, substituted in for Shadab Khan due to a concussion. Mir’s performance was crucial, as he got Rassie van der Dussen out for 21 and also caught Heinrich Klaasen for 12. Shaheen Afridi also played a key role, taking three wickets for 45 runs and increasing the pressure by dismissing Miller and Gerald Coetzee. This helped limit South Africa to a score of 250 for eight.
Haris Rauf made an impressive diving catch off his own bowling to dismiss Lungi Ngidi, putting Pakistan just one wicket away from victory. Rauf initially believed he had another wicket when Tabraiz Shamsi was given out lbw, but his appeals were dismissed and the decision stood after a review by the umpire. This was met with frustration and disbelief from the bowler.
Ultimately, Keshav Maharaj and Shamsi held on to secure a close and intense match in Chennai. Maharaj delivered the final four runs needed for victory with 16 balls remaining. This win essentially secures South Africa’s spot in the semi-finals, while Pakistan’s chances are dwindling after suffering their fourth loss in six matches.
Bavuma commented that the dressing room is currently chaotic as the guys are celebrating and giving credit to Shamsi. The finish was intense and full of tension as we were chasing the win. Unfortunately, we have not been successful in addressing this pressure in the past, but we will have discussions and it will be more manageable now that we have won.
Previously, Pakistan’s batting line-up faced difficulties at a score of 141 for five. However, Saud Shakeel (52) and Shadab (43) joined forces and managed to build an 84-run partnership with some impressive shots, resulting in a final score of 270 all out in 46.4 overs. Shamsi (four for 60) and Coetzee (two for 42) showed their skills with the ball, limiting Pakistan from reaching a dominant total.
Babar Azam made the decision to bat first and Mohammad Rizwan (31) helped stabilize their scoring after Abdullah Shafique (9) and Imam-ul-Haq (12) were both dismissed by Marco Jansen. Shamsi then took out Iftikhar Ahmed (21) who was playing aggressively in the middle overs, helping South Africa maintain control over their opponents.
Babar reached his third half-century of the tournament, but was dismissed without scoring any more runs when he inadvertently touched Shamsi’s delivery to wicketkeeper De Kock. Mohammad Nawaz (24) carelessly lost his wicket, leaving Pakistan in need of a comeback which they almost achieved.
Mickey Arthur, the director of cricket for Pakistan, attributed his team’s difficulties in the tournament to poor batting performance. He stated, “We have not yet played a flawless game. Our batting as a whole has not been up to par. On this pitch, the minimum expected score is 300. We have not scored enough runs.”
“This evening, I believe was our strongest bowling display in the tournament,” he stated. “We executed our bowling strategy effectively, but I still feel that we fell short in terms of runs allowed. It’s not due to lack of effort, but rather a lack of players in top form at the moment, especially with batting.”