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Amla’s 81 effectively dumped Pakistan out of the tournament
Pakistan’s Champion Trophy dreams were crushed to a pulp after they suffered an embarrassing 67-run loss against South Africa.
Pakistan had narrowly lost to the West Indies in their previous Champions Trophy encounter and after having lost to the Proteas, their chances of qualifying for the next round remain slim at best.
South Africa captain AB de Villiers won the toss and elected to bat first in overcast conditions, which seemed to sit quite well with Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq, who, with a wry smile, said: “With these overcast conditions you never know.”
South Africa started their off their innings in solid fashion, with openers Colin Ingram and Hashim Amla registering a 53-run partnership before Ingram was dismissed by spinner Mohammad Hafeez.
Faf du Plessis was the next man in and he and Amla continued to build on the strong start the Proteas had made.
Du Plessis and Amla recorded yet another 50-run partnership for South Africa, during which Amla reached his half-century.
However, just as the partnership seemed to be putting South Africa in the clear, Pakistan’s 7ft giant, Mohammad Irfan picked up the wicket of du Plessis after getting some extra bounce off the pitch.
Amla followed du Plessis back to the pavilion in almost no time at all as he was caught on 81 when trying to clear the fielder with a reverse sweep off the bowling of Saeed Ajmal.
Captain de Villiers and Jean Paul (JP) Duminy steadied the South African ship with a sensible 41-run partnership before de Villiers was run out after a horrible mix-up, which left him hopelessly short of the crease.
Pakistan pulled themselves back into the game with the wickets of Duminy and Ryan McLaren in quick succession.
South Africa big-hitter David Miller and all-rounder Robin Peterson showed some resilience towards the end of the innings with a 28-run partnership at 8.40 runs per over, but once Miller was caught on 19, Pakistan cleaned up the South African tail with two sharp run outs.
South Africa finished on 234 and Pakistan should have considered themselves lucky that the Proteas failed to build on the exceptional start they made to their innings.
Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik all picked up a wicket apiece to limit South Africa to a total that would be considered to be under par.
Chasing 235 to win, Pakistan’s innings got off to a shaky start, especially after opener Imran Farhat was clean bowled by a peach of a delivery from Chris Morris, who was brought into the side to replace the injured Morne Morkel.
Morris’ outstanding bowling paid off once again in the eighth over as he picked up the key wicket of Hafeez, who could only manage seven runs.
Nasir Jamshed and Shoaib Malik managed to somewhat steady to the innings for Pakistan as they managed a 30-run partnership before Malik was bowled by Duminy after the ball hit his bat and rolled back onto his stumps.
Jamshed and Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq recorded a 38-run partnership before South African seamer Lonwabo Tsotsobe picked off an unbelievable return catch, which saw the end of Jamshed, who made 42.
Ul-Haq was once again part of an impressive partnership as he and Umar Amin pulled together to make 43 runs before Amin was caught by Ingram off the bowling of McLaren.
Amin’s wicket started a chain reaction for Pakistan as their lower order batsmen completely collapsed under the pressure of the South African bowling attack.
Captain ul-Haq, sensing that his team were losing the battle, tried to up the scoring rate and managed to register yet another half-century before he too was caught in the deep for 55 after trying one big shot too many.
Pakistan were bowled out for a dismal 167 with five overs to spare.
McLaren was South Africa’s hero with the ball as he took four wickets, while Tsotsobe and Morris picked up two wickets each and Aaron Phangiso and Duminy chipped in with a wicket apiece.
Ul-Haq was at a loss of words to explain how Pakistan had faltered in their relatively simple chase of 235.
“It was a good bowling effort, 234 was getable,” he said. “You needed 4.5 an over, we could not knock it around or rotate. The batsmen were in form in the practice games but I don’t know what happened. The pitch was a little slow, but we could have chased it. We need to forget about these two games before we meet India.”
De Villiers was pleased with his side’s performance and congratulated Morris on making a huge impact with the ball on debut.
“The victory is sweet,” de Villiers said. “We got more than 200 against a quality attack on a tough wicket. The three spinners bowled very well. I wasn’t happy with 234, we set it up so well to get to 270 even. After I got out I thought 220 was also a good score. Morris had a wonderful debut. We protected the square boundaries well. Dale Steyn will most probably be ready for the next game.”
Even though he would have been disappointed not to make a century in this game, Hashim Amla still had the last laugh as he picked up the Man of the Match award for his amazing innings of 81.
“The wicket was a bit difficult early on,” he admitted. “We were just going to play normal cricket. It’s been tough going with the two white balls. We have a really good squad, a young team.”