Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Afridi helped Pakistan level the series
Coming off a shocking one-run defeat in the first ODI in Sharjah, Pakistan bounced back to crush South Africa by 66 runs in the second ODI in Dubai to level the series at 1-1.
Pakistan opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad recorded his second consecutive half-century, while veteran all-rounder Shahid Afridi and pace bowler Mohammad Irfan took three wickets apiece.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq won the toss and elected to bat first, stating that “we know the ball doesn’t do much in the first half and there will be help in the second half for the faster bowlers. We are going with the same team. I believe they played well in 95% of the game, so we need to stick with them.”
However, ul-Haq’s decision to bat first backfired almost immediately as opening batsman Nasir Jamshed was caught out off the bowling of Morne Morkel for just one run.
All-rounder Mohammad Hafeez managed to score 26 runs before he was clean bowled by Ryan McLaren.
Shehzad and ul-Haq stabilised Pakistan’s innings with a 60-run partnership, during which Shehzad brought up his half-century before ul-Haq became McLaren’s second victim of the day.
Shehzad was on his way back to the pavilion the very next over as he was dismissed by Imran Tahir for 58 off 85 balls, which included four boundaries.
Following Shehzad’s dismissal, Pakistan’s middle order completely collapsed and they went from 117/4 to 170/7.
Thanks to a quickfire 26 by Afridi and 18 by Wahab Riaz, Pakistan were able to reach 209 before being bowled out.
McLaren was the pick of the South African bowlers with four wickets, while Morkel snapped up three and Tahir and Wayne Parnell chipped in with one wicket each.
Chasing a relatively simple target of 210 to win, the Proteas got off to a horrid start as opening batsman Colin Ingram was clean bowled by Sohail Tanvir for only four runs.
Graeme Smith could only amass 14 runs before he was cleaned up by spinner Saeed Ajmal.
Things went from bad to worse for South Africa as Jean Paul (JP) Duminy, Faf du Plessis, skipper AB de Villiers and David Millier were all dismissed in quick succession to leave the Proteas struggling at 83/6.
McLaren managed to score 29 runs and Parnell added 21, but it was to no avail as Pakistan’s bowling attack were completely dominant.
South Africa were eventually bowled out for 143 with more than nine overs to spare.
Afridi and Irfan were the most successful Pakistani bowlers with three wickets apiece, while Ajmal picked up two and Tanvir and Hafeez claimed one wicket each.
De Villiers was disappointed with the loss and attributed it to his side’s lacklustre batting performance.
“Our bowlers bowled really and we had great intensity in the field. It’s all about attitude and we had that in the field,” he said. “McLaren, Morkel and Tahir bowled very well and I’m proud of the way we played in the first half. Morkel started with great intensity. We have a few issues in the batting and it’s upto us to turn it around, I’m very disappointed and Pakistan were too good for us tonight, no excuses for us. We have to face some of the best bowlers in the world and we weren’t good enough.”
Ul-Haq was ecstatic to have levelled the series and praised his bowlers for defending such a low score.
“It was a really good performance especially after getting out for a low score, our bowlers did the job for us again,” he said. “220-230 is a par score on this ground, whenever you score 200+ you have a chance here, especially if you get early wickets. The way Hafeez started, he bowled very well and Afridi took some important wickets and Ajmal put the pressure on. They were well supported by the fast bowlers. Tanvir got the first wicket and Irfan came back to take more wickets. We shouldn’t relax after winning and we still need to improve. Our batsmen are getting good starts but aren’t converting them so we need to rectify that.”
Afridi was named Man of the Match for his brilliant performance with both the bat and ball.
“We learnt a lot form the last game,” he said. “Misbah and the management realised that the last game we lost badly and we did a great job today. Playing in UAE is always like home, we get great support so thanks to the crowd. Batting is my plus point and I always focus on my bowling.”