Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
De Villiers’ century led South Africa to a convincing 4-1 series win
South Africa captain AB de Villiers led by example in the final ODI in Sharjah as he smashed a spectacular century to annihilate Pakistan by 117 runs and give the Proteas a convincing 4-1 series win.
De Villiers was well supported by a fantastic all-round bowling performance, which saw Pakistan bowled out for yet another poor score.
De Villiers also won the toss and elected to bat first.
Wayne Parnell and Vernon Philander came in for South Africa’s pace duo of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, while spinner Robin Peterson replaced Imran Tahir.
Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq only announced one change, which was Umar Amin coming in for Asad Shafiq.
De Villiers’ decision to bat first backfired almost immediately as opening batsman Hashim Amla was given out lbw off the bowling of Mohammad Irfan for just three runs.
A solid 50-run partnership between Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis stabilised the innings before de Kock was given out lbw off the bowling of Saeed Ajmal for 34.
All-rounder Jean Paul (JP) Duminy failed to contribute with the bat as he only amassed two runs before being caught out off the bowling of Mohammad Hafeez.
Du Plessis and de Villiers steadied the ship with a brilliant 62-run partnership until Junaid Khan dismissed du Plessis just four agonising runs shy of his half-century.
David Miller could only muster 15 runs before he was out caught and bowled to become Ajmal’s second victim of the day.
With South Africa starting to lose wickets at regular intervals, Ryan McLaren and de Villiers came to the rescue with an impressive 83-run partnership, during which de Villiers brought up his half-century, before McLaren was caught out for a valiant 27.
Despite losing Peterson the very next over, de Villiers ended up registering his 15th ODI century to guide South Africa to a respectable total of 268 at the end of their 50 overs.
De Villiers finished unbeaten on 115 off just 102 balls, which included 10 boundaries and three sixes.
Ajmal was the pick of the Pakistani bowlers with three wickets, while Khan snapped up two and Hafeez and Irfan chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing 269 to win, Pakistan got off to a horrid start as opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad was caught out off the bowling of Lonwabo Tsotsobe for only two runs.
Hafeez was on his way back to the pavilion the very next over as he was clean bowled by Philander for just six runs.
Amin fared no better as he was given out lbw for five runs to become Philander’s second victim of the day.
Ul-Haq could only accumulate 18 runs before being was caught out off the bowling of McLaren.
A 54-run partnership between wicketkeeper Umar Akmal and Shoaib Maqsood stemmed the bleeding until Akmal was given out lbw off the bowling of Duminy for 30.
Maqsood was able to bring up his second consecutive half-century before succumbing to the pressure of the increasing required run rate.
Maqsood’s exceptional knock of 53 came off 65 balls and included seven boundaries.
Following Maqsood’s departure, Pakistan’s lower order batsmen failed to put up much of a fight and they were eventually bowled out for a dismal 151 with more than 14 overs to spare.
Parnell was the most successful South African bowler with three wickets, while Duminy, McLaren and Philander all picked up two wickets each and Tsotsobe chipped in with one wicket as well.
Ul-Haq admitted that Pakistan “had no answers” and were completely “outplayed” by the Proteas.
“They played really well,” he said. “We had no answers in the way they outplayed us. It’s an old story now (regarding batting collapses). We really have to think about that.
“Again in the middle order we had a collapse and we really have to think about that. The best thing that came out of this series is Sohaib Maqsood and the way he played.
“Our bowling was really doing well in the way Irfan, Junaid bowled. Spinners bowled well. Shehzad batted well so that was a positive. That’s a big worry for us (the upcoming SA tour). With this sort of batting line-up we need to do something quickly because in those conditions we have to play well.”
De Villiers was jumping for joy at having played an integral role in leading his team to a dominating 4-1 series win and at having been named Man of the Match as well.
“It is extremely satisfying,” he said. “Wonderful series from the boys. We really gelled together as a team and played together as one. We put our personal differences aside and pulled for the team. Makes me a very proud captain. I found the track very difficult and the spinners bowled really well. Afridi bowled a good spell to me. Felt like I was going nowhere. Don’t know what happened in the last 10-15 overs, but it shows that if you hang in there in international sport, you can get through a bad patch. So really enjoyed it at the end.
“We are still away from home so it makes it a very special series win for us. We didn’t start well in the first two games, and we could have gone down 2-0, but with a lot of team spirit and fight we won the first ODI, and everything was in a good place. Great to have the depth we have at the moment.
“We wanted to get Vernon involved for the last while and he showed what a special player he is. Also Parnell and Robby did well and all the energy from the team was really great. Proud of each and every member of the team. Having clinched the series already, it is always difficult to get going on but when you wear this shirt (SA) and are playing at this level, then you have to play your best with the same intensity. The boys did exactly that so really proud of that.
“First series win for Russell Domingo away from home so he will have a few beers I am sure. He has all the makings to make a great coach one day, and he is going in that direction. I am enjoying the captaincy I am in a very good space at the moment. Tomorrow we will take it easy and there is a golf tournament here so we will take that in. Then back to the T20 series (in South Africa).”
In a rather surprising move, McLaren was named Man of the Series for taking nine wickets at an incredible average of 19.88.
“It’s been a good run for me personally in the last couple of months,” he said. “I was given good backing by the management and happy with the opportunities I have got, but there is a lot of teamwork that goes behind it. There are two guys who helped me. Gary Kirsten has been a massive influence on my career and Allan Donald, on the bowling side, has really made a big difference.
“It’s great having an award like this but I think there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. It’s a case of trying to adopt a positive mindset and take as many wickets as possible. If you are going to be defensive as a bowler you will be found out. So tried to adopt a positive and attacking mindset as a bowler.
“After the Sri Lanka series, it was a tough series for the team. So it was a real learning curve for us. Learned a couple of lessons here and tried to be adaptable. Working towards WC 2014 so this is all part of the process, so keep trying to learn from each series. It’s great to have the depth we have in the bowling front. To work around guys like Steyn and Morkel, who have been stalwarts is a pleasure.”