Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Pakistan’s win ensured the series finished as a 1-1 draw
Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez and wicketkeeper Umar Akmal both smashed half-centuries to help their side to a six-run win over South Africa in the second and final Twenty20 in Cape Town.
Hafeez and Akmal were well supported by veteran all-rounder Shahid Afridi, who took three wickets.
Hafeez won the toss and elected to bat first.
However, he would have been pondering over whether he made the right decision as opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad edged a delivery from Wayne Parnell straight to Hashim Amla in the slips to be dismissed for only nine runs.
Nasir Jamshed could only amass 19 runs before he was brilliantly stumped by Quinton de Kock off the bowling of Aaron Phangiso.
After losing Shehzad and Jamshed in quick succession, Hafeez and Akmal came to the rescue with a record-breaking 102-run partnership, during which both batsmen brought up their half-centuries, before Hafeez was caught at mid-off by AB de Villiers for 63 off the bowling of Dale Steyn.
Hafeez and Akmal’s 102-run partnership is now the highest third-wicket stand for Pakistan in Twenty2o Internationals.
Hafeez’s fantastic knock of 63 came off just 41 balls and included five boundaries and three sixes.
Akmal was on his way back to the pavilion just a short while later as Jean Paul (JP) Duminy took a stunning catch at long-on off the bowling of Steyn.
Akmal’s spectacular innings of 64 came off only 37 deliveries and included five boundaries and an incredible four sixes.
Pakistan eventually finished on 176/4 at the end of their 20 overs.
Steyn was the pick of the South African bowlers with two wickets, while Parnell and Phangiso snapped up one wicket apiece.
Chasing 177 to win the series, South Africa got off to a solid start as their opening pair of de Kock and Amla put together a 58-run partnership before de Kock attempted a slog sweep off the bowling of Afridi on 26, which ended up falling in the hands of Jamshed at deep fine leg.
Afridi struck again a few overs later as South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis pulled the ball straight to Hafeez at deep midwicket.
De Villiers only managed to score 13 runs before chopping the ball onto his stumps to become Afridi’s third victim of the day.
Amla was the next man to depart as he hit a delivery from Saeed Ajmal right to Bilawal Bhatti at the deep square boundary to be dismissed just two agonising runs short of his half-century.
Amla’s outstanding innings of 48 came off 40 balls and included five boundaries.
Despite a valiant unbeaten 53-run partnership between Duminy and David Miller, South Africa fell six runs short of their target.
Duminy finished on 47 off 26 balls, which included three boundaries and two maximums, while Miller remained undefeated on 22 off 13 deliveries, which included one boundary and a six.
Afridi was the most successful Pakistani bowler with three wickets, while Ajmal chipped in with one.
Du Plessis was disappointed to have lost the game, and said: “I think we weren’t as good tonight in the bowling department as we have before. We made some errors and gave away 20 extra runs and that was the difference. It was a really good wicket, we could see it would be a nice deck. I thought we brought it back nicely in the last four overs, but in the middle we did not bowl to the right plans.
“We are in a very good place. We are not always going to win and tonight we didn’t play our best so Pakistan played better and deserved to win it. Even in the previous victories, we weren’t at our best, but we pulled it out. We have tried a few combinations. It is good if we can stick to the same winning combination, but we need to change it up for the T20 World Cup next year.”
Hafeez, who was named Man of the Match and Man of the Series, was ecstatic to have ended the two-match series as a 1-1 draw.
“We have been working really hard, but things were not working for Pakistan,” he said. “Some kind of luck, some kind of game awareness was missing. I think everyone contribute a lot in this game. We knew we had to win this game to stay positive for the rest of the series, and we did just that. We’ve been losing the matches which we could easily win, but it was luck or some kind of game awareness.
“Everyone contributed a lot. Bhatti showed a lot of commitment and has been a good find for Pakistan as well. We were having three senior players not with us with Malik, Razzaq, etc. We had a good meeting with each other to stay positive and do well for Pakistan. It’s always great to do well for Pakistan and that I was able to contribute to the victory. Misbah is here and Shafiq is here so hopefully it all remains the same for the ODIs.”