Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Steyn claimed three wickets in one over to extinguish Pakistan’s hopes of levelling the series
South Africa opening batsman Quinton de Kock smashed a spectacular maiden century and pace spearhead Dale Steyn registered his second five-wicket haul as the Proteas beat Pakistan by 28 runs in the fourth ODI in Abu Dhabi to take an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series.
De Kock became the youngest South African batsman to score an ODI century at just 20 years of age, while Steyn recorded his career-best bowling figures of 5/25.
South Africa captain AB de Villiers won the toss and elected to bat first.
His decision to do so paid off as the Proteas’ opening pair of de Kock and Hashim Amla put together an 87-run partnership before Amla was clean bowled by Mohammad Hafeez just four agonising runs short of his half-century.
De Kock should have considered himself extremely lucky as he was dropped on two runs by Hafeez in the slips.
However, he took full advantage of Hafeez’s blunder by bringing up his half-century during a promising 42-run partnership with Faf du Plessis.
The partnership was ended when du Plessis was caught out off the bowling of Mohammad Irfan for only 10 runs.
De Villiers joined de Kock at the crease and the pair registered a 69-run partnership, during which de Kock recorded his maiden ODI century by smashing a huge six straight down the ground, before de Villiers was caught out off the bowling of Junaid Khan for 30.
De Kock was on his way back to the pavilion just two overs later as he was caught out off the bowling of Khan for 112.
De Kock’s fabulous innings of 112 came off 135 balls and included nine boundaries and a six.
A quickfire 52-run partnership at a blazing run rate of 8.21 between Jean Paul (JP) Duminy and Ryan McLaren helped South Africa reach 266 at the end of their 50 overs.
Duminy finished unbeaten on 25 off 21 balls, which included one boundary and a six, while McLaren remained undefeated on 28 off 21 deliveries, which included three boundaries and a six.
Khan and Hafeez were the pick of the Pakistani bowlers with two wickets apiece, while Irfan chipped in with one wicket as well.
Chasing a tough target of 267 to level the series, Pakistan got off to a solid start as their opening pair of Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad put together a 74-run partnership before Shehzad was the victim of a brilliant piece of fielding by de Villiers.
Shehzad was looking threatening on 43, but once again some poor communication between the Pakistani batsmen led to South Africa finding the breakthrough they so desperately needed.
Just a couple of overs later, Hafeez was cleaned up by Imran Tahir for 33.
Things went from bad to worse for Pakistan as Asad Shafiq was dismissed in the very next over after top-edging a delivery from Lonwabo Tsotsobe straight into the hands of Morne Morkel.
Debutant Shoaib Maqsood and captain Misbah-ul-Haq rescued Pakistan with an 88-run partnership, during which Maqsood brought up his maiden half-century, before he was caught out off the bowling of Steyn for 56.
Maqsood’s outstanding knock of 56 came off just 54 balls and included six boundaries and two glorious sixes.
Sohail Tanvir was the next to depart as he hit the ball straight into the hands of Amla at fine leg to become Steyn’s second victim of the day.
Steyn returned with a vengeance in the 47th over as he removed wicketkeeper Umar Akmal off the first delivery before claiming ul-Haq off his fourth ball and finishing off by rattling Saeed Ajmal’s off-stump off the last delivery of the over.
From that point on, it was all South Africa as Shahid Afridi was run out off a direct hit by du Plessis in the very next over.
McLaren finished things off for South Africa as he clean bowled Khan with an absolutely cracking yorker.
Steyn registered his second five-wicket haul, while McLaren, Tsotsobe and Tahir all snapped up one wicket apiece.
Ul-Haq stated that Pakistan had a chance to tie the series until Steyn’s three-wicket over turned the entire match on its head.
“We had two set batsman and the equation was 30 balls 41 runs which was gettable,” he said. “But Steyn’s over and the over before [Morkel’s which went for two runs] put pressure on us.
“We missed couple of chances in the field as well and one of them cost over 100 runs. Few run-out chances as well and had we got them we could have restricted them for under 250.
“Sohaib Maqsood was really something special on debut, with the confidence and maturity he showed. Every game is important, these are international games. No doubt we lost the series and we want to finish on a high. Yeah, looks like we are playing only South Africa. We are really playing each other a lot over the recent years.”
De Villiers was ecstatic to have won the series, especially after South Africa were thrashed 4-1 by Sri Lanka in August.
“I wasn’t thinking on Sharjah, was thinking of one ball at a time and focus on the present and try not to think too far ahead,” he said. “Having won here two days ago, we had the confidence and having started well, we continued our momentum. If the decider had gone to Sharjah it would have been tight, but its good we wrapped things up here.
“Quinton de Kock is a serious talent for the future in South Africa for the first time I saw him play. I was expecting him to come through in two or three years time but to do it so so early, especially after a tough tour to Sri Lanka where he had some mental and technical issues is great.
“Nice to have Steyn in the team, I play around him and he has that killer instinct. Everyone had it in this game, even JP Duminy. I really enjoyed captaining tonight, it was a hard game, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and Pakistan would come at us hard which they did. We hit back with our patience and the communication was pretty good, Hashim was always at my ear and we took out catches and got some run-outs and things worked out. Its a very proud moment for me to win a series away from home and would love to make it 4-1.”
Steyn’s five-wicket haul edged out de Kock’s maiden century for the Man of the Match award.
“The rest did help,” Steyn said. “Very happy with the performance, happy to win the series tonight itself. Actually I don’t know what I was doing in that over, I was just trying to visualise my field, and AB was talking but all I could hear was just mumbling. But the team did well as a unit, AB made the right bowling changes and the pressure we put forced forced Pakistan to make the errors [in my over].
“I guess that’s my job, isn’t it? I’m supposed to be an angry fast bowler and I was just reminding Hafeez that I’d got him out a couple of times and and to Misbah, I told him he was Pakistan’s final hope. Just means it was going to be difficult to better. Happy to get another five-for. Its only my second one, not playing a lot of ODI cricket, but hopefully I go from strength to strength.”
Speaking about his century, de Kock said: “It is always a privilege to get that for your home country, just soaking in the moment. It was more, I made a mistake for my last game and maybe so this time I decided I’d just tick it around and work for my runs and it paid off. I dont know where that shot came from but I think it was just a reaction shot.
“This is definitely one of the best moments and hopefully more will come though. Yeah, AB came up and said ‘You beauty’ and we just celebrated. I wouldn’t say I really belong here yet. I haven’t made my name in international cricket, I’ve only made one hundred and playing with people like Hash and AB and against players like Misbah, I have a long way to go. I had a bit of luck through my innings. I’m just happy that we won the game.”