A spirited Pakistan side put its World Cup campaign back on track with an upset 29-run win via Duckworth-Lewis method over South Africa in a thrilling pool B cricket match, here in Auckland on Saturday.
Put into bat in a rain-hit encounter, Pakistan rode on Misbah-ul-Haq’s 56 to post 222 all out in 46.4 overs and then packed South Africa for 202 in 33.3 overs in the 47 overs-a-side game.
Chasing a revised 232-run target, Proteas innings fell apart in the face of some excellent Pakistan bowling as captain AB de Villiers’ valiant 77 went in vain on a lively Eden park track.
Pace spearhead Mohammad Irfan (3-52), left-arm pacers Rahat Ali (3-40) and Wahab Riaz (3-45) bagged three wickets each. New-ball bowler Sohail Khan (1-36) got the all-important wicket of de Villiers in the 33rd over.
South Africa were in neck deep trouble at 138 for seven, before de Villiers stuck to his guns, forming crucial partnerships with Dale Steyn (16), Kyle Abbott (12) and Morne Morkel (6 not out) for the seventh, eighth and ninth wickets respectively.
But it was Pakistan’s day after Irfan, Rahat and Riaz ran through the South African top-order of Quinton de Kock (0), Hashim Amla (38) and Faf du Plessis (27) to put the African giants in early trouble.
The pace trio got the crucial breakthroughs at regular intervals to enable Pakistan register their third win in five games and rise to third spot in the table led by India.
Earlier, Pakistan showed some application when they batted after wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed, who took five catches behind the stumps, gave the team a good start with a gritty 49.
Younis Khan (37) and Shahid Afridi (22) also chipped in with crucial scores apart from Misbah’s patient half-century that did the trick for the Men in Green.
Dale Steyn, who bagged three wickets in the Pakistan innings, was also responsible for opener Ahmed Shehzad’s (18) scalp with a breathtaking catch in the outfield.
South Africa, who comfortably won their games against Zimbabwe, West Indies and Ireland, are placed on second position. They had lost to India and now Pakistan.