Sharjah: South Africa pulled off an exciting one-run win over Pakistan in the first One-day match of the Cool & Cool Cup series at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Despite being bowled out for 183 runs in 49.5 overs, falling to the guiles of Pakistan spinners Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi, South Africa bowled out Pakistan for 182 runs through fine bowling from Wayne Parnell (3 for 41) and Imran Tahir (3 for 45). Pakistan crashed from a commanding 165 for 4, with the last six wickets falling for just 17 runs within a span of 39 balls. Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe too bagged two wickets each.
Ajmal destroyed South Africa’s top order with a spell of 4 for 30 which included the wickets of star batsmen Graeme Smith and skipper AB De Villiers to bowl out South Africa for 183 runs in 49.5 overs with crowd’s favourite Shahid Afridi chipping in with three wickets for 37 runs.
Chasing the target, Ahmed Shehzad cracked 58 runs and skipper Misbah Ul Haq hitting a composed 31 runs. Hafeez too contributed with 28 runs before the batting collapse began.
South Africa and would have been bowled out for a smaller total as they were at one stage tottering at 86 for 6 but for a fighting maiden half century from No.8 batsman Wayne Parnell. He hit 56 runs from 70 balls with six fours and one six and put on 52 runs with Lonwabo Tsotsobe for the ninth wicket.
Ajmal demonstrated the tricks that have earned him international acclaim as the most feared spinner. He made South Africa batsmen struggle to read him and beat them repeatedly. Afridi entertained the thousands of Pakistan fans who thronged the stands despite being a working day with his tantalizing leg spin.
De Villiers won the toss and promptly elected to bat stating that it is a bat first pitch though the decision may have been to protect his bowlers from the afternoon heat.
Pakistan picked an early wicket when Mohammad Irfan had Colin Ingram out for a duck to the second ball of the match. Irfan generated bounce off the wicket and forced Ingram to fend at the delivery which took the outside edge for wicketkeeper Umar Akmal to take the catch.
JP Duminy joined opener Graeme Smith and put on 38 runs in 8.5 overs before he pulled Sohail Tanvir into the hands of Umar Amin at square leg for 20. Smith on 19 survived a confident appeal for caught behind off Saeed Ajmal. Three balls later, Ajmal beat Smith and had him brilliantly stumped by Akmal for 20.
The Pakistan fans who began to swell the stands cheered for their bowlers. The mantle of lifting South Africa fell on skipper De Villiers and Faf Du Plessis. Through a well timed straight drive off Irfan, Du Plessis began his knock but Ajmal quickly put a full stop to it. In the 15th over Ajmal hit Du Plessis pads twice and with a third one had him trapped leg before.
David Miller, fresh from an unbeaten 96 in a domestic tournament last week began cautiously but De Villiers fell to Ajmal’s doosra. De Villiers spooned an easy return catch for 4 and half the South African side were back in the pavilion for 63.
Shahid Afridi who was introduced in the 27th over struck with the third ball of his first over to end a 23 runs partnership between Ryan McLaren and Miller. He made McLaren offer a low return catch. Crowd favourite Afridi received a standing ovation for the wicket. Miller got a good partner in Wayne Parnell and they put on 39 runs before Afridi forced Miller to offer another return catch.
Chasing a target of 184 to win, Pakistan began with opener Nasir Jamshed being dismissed for a duck. Going for a hook off Morkel, Jamshed top edged to Miller at short leg off. Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez quickly settled down. They picked the gaps and kept the score board moving cheered by the fans. The pair put on 71 runs in 15.1 overs when Hafeez miscued a pull off Parnell to be caught by wicketkeeper AB De Villiers for 28.
Shehzad raced to his third One-day half century and with his skipper Misbah Ul Haq steered Pakistan past the 100 run mark in the 26th over.
When Pakistan needed 77 more runs to win in 22.1 overs, Parnell struck again forcing Shehzad to pull into the hands of Graeme Smith at mid wicket for 58. He also ended Haq’s fighting knock of 31 runs having him caught at backward point.
Tsotsobe picking two quick wickets put South Africa back into the game.