Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Shehzad’s century guided Pakistan to their first bilateral ODI series win over South Africa
Pakistan won their first ever bilateral ODI series against South Africa after clinching a nail-biting one-run win over them in the second ODI in Port Elizabeth.
Pakistan opener Ahmed Shehzad was the hero of the match as he scored a sparkling century to give the Asian giants an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.
South Africa captain AB de Villiers won the toss, which was delayed by 90 minutes due to rain, and elected to bowl first.
Due to the rain, the match was cut down to 45 overs per side.
De Villiers’ decision to bowl first paid off immediately as Pakistan opening batsman Nasir Jamshed was clean bowled by Dale Steyn off the fifth ball of the match.
Mohammad Hafeez did not last much longer as he was caught behind off the bowling of Steyn for just eight runs.
Shoaib Maqsood and Shehzad avenged the loss of their two team-mates with a brilliant 124-run partnership, during which Shehzad brought up his half-century, before Maqsood hit a delivery from Ryan McLaren straight to Hashim Amla at extra cover to be dismissed for 42.
Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq failed to make a major contribution with the bat as he was caught behind off the bowling of Imran Tahir for only 12 runs.
Despite wickets falling at regular intervals, Shehzad powered through to register his third ODI century before he was run out.
Shehzad’s outstanding knock of 102 came off 112 balls and included eight boundaries and two sixes.
Veteran all-rounder Shahid Afridi only managed to score 11 runs before edging the ball to de Villiers in the slip region to become Steyn’s third victim of the day.
Bilawal Bhatti made a quickfire 21 before being caught behind off the bowling of Steyn.
Anwar Ali was dismissed in the most uncommon of ways just a short while later as he deliberately blocked a throw from wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock to avoid being run out and was instead given out for obstructing the field.
Steyn completed his third ODI five-wicket haul the very next ball as Umar Akmal was caught behind for 42 off just 30 balls, which included four boundaries and two maximums.
Steyn picked up his sixth wicket on the very last ball of Pakistan’s innings as Saeed Ajmal was caught by Jacques Kallis at third man off a top edge.
Pakistan were bowled out for 262.
Steyn recorded a career-best six wickets for 39 runs, while McLaren and Tahir chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing 263 to level the series, South Africa got off to a horrible start as opening batsman Graeme Smith was caught behind off the bowling of Junaid Khan for just one run.
Amla and de Kock made up for the early loss of Smith with an excellent 87-run partnership before de Kock was was caught by ul-Haq at silly mid-on just three runs shy of his half-century.
De Kocks’s solid innings of 47 came off 52 balls and included three boundaries and a six.
Kallis failed to make a major contribution with the bat as he was caught out for just six runs when top-edging an attempted sweep shot off the bowling of Afridi.
Amla and de Villiers stabilised the innings with a 110-run partnership, during which de Villiers surpassed his half-century, before being caught at deep square leg off the bowling of Khan.
De Villiers’ outstanding knock of 74 came off just 45 deliveries and included eight boundaries and two sixes.
Amla was the next to go as he was caught by Hafeez just two agonising runs short of his century.
Amla’s spectacular innings of 98 came off 131 balls and included seven boundaries.
Jean Paul (JP) Duminy fell a few deliveries later as he was caught at deep midwicket for 15 runs.
Needing nine runs to win in the last over, Khan bowled exceptionally well as he limited the Proteas to only three runs off the first five balls.
David Miller was tasked with the job of hitting a last ball six to keep South Africa alive in the series, but he only managed to score four runs and looked on in utter despair as Pakistan celebrated their one-run victory and first bilateral ODI series win over the Proteas.
Khan was the most successful Pakistan bowler with three wickets, while Afridi snapped up two and Ajmal chipped in with one.
De Villiers was disappointed at having lost the game, especially since his side were in complete control for most of the time.
“Close but not across the line,” he said. “A couple of runs there would have stopped you from asking a lot of good questions. Just not good enough, we lost the series and I am disappointed. The most disappointing thing was when we had the game in the pocket when I was out with Hash. We got out when we shouldn’t have and gave the game away. We lost momentum. Had the game in the pocket.
“When you have the game done and dusted, don’t give the game to the opposition, especially one as world-class as this. Not a lot pleased me in the first half.
“Thought we were not disciplined with the ball and our ground fielding. We haven’t shown our ground fielding skills so far this series which is worrying and we have to work on that. After losing the series there are a lot of questions to be asked. A lot of believers in the side and system and we will come back.”
Ul-Haq was ecstatic to have won his first bilateral ODI series against South Africa, and said: “Honestly speaking the game was escaping out of our hands, but in the end we came back in the last two overs to win this. Superb team effort. Everyone really stuck in. The runs [were] stopped and the catches held at the end was important.
“The way Ajmal bowled well at the end. Junaid was tremendous with his first four and then last five. Team wanted this victory and the way, even of the last ball, was the way they were fighting. That was the key for us in this game.
“Two, three games in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, we should have won easily, but they really bowled well and played better than us. Maybe different attitude, but the attitude was the difference here. Everybody wants to win here. We want to prove to the world we can win the series and show the world we are better. We will sit together to see what we can achieve in the final game.”
Shehzad was named Man of the Match for his breathtaking century.
“It wasn’t easy to bat on,” he said. “Ball wasn’t coming on to the bat. First few overs ball wasn’t coming, but as soon as the lights came on it got easier. I want to mention the spinners. Shahid bhai has been bowling tremendously, along with Saeed Ajmal, while Junaid took the responsibility at the end to bowl well. Maqsood is a free stroke player and we need his kind of talent in the pressure overs and Powerplay. Told him to take his chances but he couldn’t’ connect. It happens in this game.
“By the time I came from the West Indies, my captain really supported me throughout. We haven’t been clicking much the last few series. The way the management is treating us, and the way Moin bhai has been handling us, it has gone a long way in helping our belief after we lost series in the UAE. Those guys are doing a tremendous job off the field and have supported us. It’s very pleasing for any opening batsman to make a hundred in SA. Sometimes it’s really quick, sometimes it is two-paced, so it is especially pleasing to do well in these conditions.”