Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Parnell scored 56 runs and picked up three wickets
South Africa managed to sneak past Pakistan by one run in a thrilling, low-scoring showdown in Sharjah.
South Africa left-arm pace bowler Wayne Parnell was the hero of the match as he not only smashed 56 runs, but also picked up three wickets.
Proteas captain AB de Villiers won the toss and elected to bat first.
However, that decision backfired immediately as opening batsman Colin Ingram was on his way back to the pavilion after being caught behind off the second ball of the match.
Both Jean Paul (JP) Duminy and Graeme Smith were only able to amass 20 runs before they were dismissed.
Faf du Plessis failed to make a major contribution as well as he managed to score 12 runs before being given out lbw off the bowling of Saeed Ajmal.
De Villiers could not produce a captain’s knock as he was dismissed by Ajmal for just four runs.
David Miller was the first batsman to show any signs of resistance and life as he scored 37 off 51 balls, which included two boundaries and a six, before Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi claimed his wicket.
The high point of South Africa’s innings came from Parnell, who recorded his half-century during a 52-run partnership with Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
Parnell’s superb knock of 56 came off 70 deliveries and included six boundaries and a six.
Thanks to Parnell, South Africa were able to reach 183 before being bowled out.
Ajmal was the pick of the Pakistani bowlers with four wickets, while Afridi snapped up three, Sohail Tanvir claimed two victims and Mohammad Irfan chipped in with one wicket as well.
Chasing a relatively straightforward total of 184 to win, Pakistan got off to a rough start as opening batsman Nasir Jamshed was caught out off the bowling of Morne Morkel for a duck.
A 71-run partnership between Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez soon stabilised the innings until Hafeez was caught behind off the bowling of Parnell for 28.
Shehzad was able to register a half-century before he became Parnell’s second victim of the day.
Shehzad’s sensible innings of 58 came off 92 balls and included five boundaries.
Captain Misbah-ul-Haq was able to become the 13th batsman from Pakistan to register 4000 ODI runs before he was caught out.
Following ul-Haq’s dismissal, Pakistan continued to lose wickets at regular intervals and soon South Africa found themselves in the driver’s seat.
With just over three overs to go in their innings, Pakistan needed two runs to reach their target, but only had one wicket in hand.
Just when it seemed as if Pakistan were going to escape with a win, Irfan was cleaned bowled by Morkel, giving South Africa a tense one-run win and a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
Parnell and Imran Tahir both picked up three wickets apiece, while Tsotsobe and Morkel snapped up two wickets each.
This is the fourth time South Africa have won an ODI by one run, with the other three occasions coming against New Zealand in Hobart in 1997, against England in Cape Town in 2000 and against the West Indies in Bridgetown in 2005.
This is also the third time Pakistan have lost an ODI by one run, with the other two occasions coming against New Zealand in Sialkot in 1976 and against the West Indies in Bridgetown in 2011.
Ul-Haq was absolutely disgusted that his side had choked during their chase of 184.
“We could not handle the pressure, some relaxed shots that cost us the match,” he said. “Once we won a game here against Sri Lanka (1999) where they had seven wickets in hand. Our focus should be to be there till the last run in scored. the batting spoiled the party. Afridi and Ajmal bowled really well. We have to forget this game and improve for the next game.”
Despite winning the match, de Villiers admitted that he was “disappointed” with South Africa’s “batting performance”.
“I was focusing on making the right decisions for the guys,” he said. “Disappointed with our batting performance. Would like to touch on the team performance. South Africans always believe we can turn things around. When you get a sniff you have drive it home. Immi (Tahir) was fantastic. He was always going to come back after the 40th over. Have to give credit to Tsotsobe, he gave us two wickets. Immi followed him and did his magic.”
Parnell was named Man of the Match for his brilliant contributions with both the bat and ball, and he said: “Happy to contribute with bat and ball. Myself and Miller, we looked to keep the score ticking over. After my first over I though I was rushing it a little bit and from the second I was fine.”