Pakistan v South Africa, Champions Trophy, Edgbaston June 10, 2013

Amla, bowlers leave Pakistan on brink


South Africa 234 for 9 (Amla 81) beat Pakistan 167 (Misbah 55, McLaren 4-19) by 67 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

A taxi driver in Birmingham has bought a ticket to watch Pakistan every time they played in the city for the last 30 years, except this time. He simply did not have the confidence in their batting to bother. It turns out he was right.

South Africa lived to fight another day in the Champions Trophy as their bowlers, woeful against India but wolfish against an fragile line-up, defended a barely-par total. In the absence of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, Lonwabo Tsotsobe led the pack with maturity while debutant Chris Morris added energy and Ryan McLaren backed them up at the death.

Misbah-ul-Haq was again Pakistan's lone ranger and again he could not take them over the line. He lacked support from everyone except Nasir Jamshed. By contrast, South Africa's anchor, Hashim Amla, enjoyed small contributions throughout the middle order.

In an almost exact replica to the England-Australia match that was played here on Saturday, Amla's 81 was as valuable as Ian Bell's 91 but it may never have swelled to that had Pakistan held on to an early chance. Amla was on 7 when he slashed at a short, wide delivery off Mohammad Irfan and presented a tough but takeable catch to Umar Amin at point. Amin dived, got fingers to it and then he watched it slip through. It was a moment that taught him a tough lesson: don't' drop Amla.

Over the last year, England, Australia and New Zealand have paid for that mistake. Pakistan may do so twice. They put Amla down at the Wanderers in March, he went on to score 122. Both then and now, South Africa came out winners.

Conditions could not have been more different to Johannesburg than they were in Birmingham. There it was a belter of a track on which runs rained. Here it was a sluggish surface that did not facilitate a free flow. Both teams started slowly, Pakistan ended that way too.

Mohammed Irfan and Junaid Khan kept South Africa to 36 runs in the first 10 overs and did not take wicket, although they could have had Amla. Morris, Tsotsobe and McLaren restricted Pakistan to 18 for 2 in the same period, which immediately made Pakistan's task more difficult.

By the 19th over, their required run rate had already ballooned to six an over and considering no one had scored at that rate at any stage of the game, it seemed unlikely Pakistan would. But Misbah marshalled proceedings in his usual, calm way. He saw off the good balls - and there were many which South Africa bowled - and waited to take advantage of anything that was occasionally tossed up or slightly wide.

AB de Villiers did a fine job of rotating his bowlers and was spoilt for choice with three seamers and three spinners. He used JP Duminy before Robin Peterson and it paid off, when Shoaib Malik was bowled by a delivery that rolled back onto his stumps, and brought Tsotsobe back at exactly the right time, after a first spell of five overs for six runs.

The left-armer used his variations well and bowled Jamshed an offcutter that he fed back. The tall man got down low and plucked it in his follow through. Misbah knew he had to battle on his own.

After 49 boundary-less deliveries, he cleared Morris over mid-on to release pressure but he was soon stranded. McLaren removed Umar Amin when he tried to go big and was caught at cover and Kamran Akmal, who was caught at point, in the same over and Pakistan's chase seemed over.

Misbah responded with a six over long-on and then his fight was also extinguished. He picked out midwicket from a Tsotsobe slower ball and left it to the tail to have some fun at the end. Instead, it was McLaren who helped himself to four wickets for five runs to ensure South Africa rounded up a convincing win.

They would not have been confident of that at the halfway stage. With 51 runs scored and six wickets falling in the last 10 overs of their innings, it seemed they had squandered the chance to build on a well-laid platform.

Even though Pakistan's three spinners cost them only 107 runs in 26 overs, Amla's 69-run stand with Faf du Plessis and the 41 put on by de Villiers and Duminy helped negate the collapse later on. South Africa will remain concerned about the four run-outs but showed significant improvement and will eye the last four.

Pakistan now look at the semi-finals from a greater distance and, although they are not out of the competition, they need West Indies to beat India on Tuesday. If Pakistan then beat India and West Indies triumph over South Africa in the final group games, three teams would have won one match and net run-rate will come into the equation.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Zain on June 14, 2013, 12:12 GMT

    After Ireland tour this was the worst fear of a Pak fan but it is a reality now. Pakistan could become the only team to leave without a single point. They are to play tournament best team and their fierce rival now who are in great form and playing without any fear. I wonder how the fortune changes for Pak team after they beat Indians in India this year. It seems Indians has got something out of IPL and their players are tougher, better and ready to go on Pak.

  • zaf on June 14, 2013, 8:39 GMT

    Please see my last month comments that team selection wasn't on merit; Hafeez professor, Asad Safiq, Imran Farhat, Sohaib Malik weak batting will sink PAK in CT. Mr. tuktuk scored 50 but played like practice matches, and couldn't chase the targets. In ODI/T20 PAK really need fast playing batsmen who can fight to chase high score.

  • zaf on June 14, 2013, 8:34 GMT

    PCB should wakeup now and kickoff players who failed, PAK really need new batting lineup. Farhat, Malik, K. Akmal, Asad Safiq, Hafeez should be out and Haris Sohail, Razzak, Ahmed Shahzad, Hammad Azam, Awais Zia and LALA AFRIDI should be back as CAPT. PAK should promote Ahmed Shahzad, Awais Zia, Afridi as opener & groom Nasir Jamshed, Haris Sohail as middle order batsman.

  • Cricket on June 14, 2013, 7:09 GMT

    The Biggest problem of Pakistani cricket is the Chairman and selectors espcially IQBAL QASIM, who thought that previous discards like Mohammed Hafeez, Kamran & Shoeb Malik could replace Abdul Razzaq & Shahid Khan Afridi.

    It shows the lack of vision in the selectors. After so many years in the waiting HARIS SOHAIL is still being left out just because the selectors wanted to ensure the Farhat gets all the games to play.

    In the present team just replace Farhat, Malik, A.Shafiq, Kamran, W.Riaz with Haris Sohail, Afridi, Razzaq, Sarfraz Ahmed, Asad Ali and you got a much better team. NASIR JAMSHED IS ONE YOUNGSTER WHO GOT THE OPPORTUNITY AND IN THE LAST 1 YEAR OR MORE HE HAS PERFORMED BETTER THAN HAFEEZ, FARHAT, SHAFIQ, U.AKMAL etc.

    I am sure if Haris Soahail gets an opportunity he will perform much better than all the seniors.


  • Chapati on June 14, 2013, 5:11 GMT

    well PAK is a team in decline. They had thier ups but its the beggining of the end for Cricket in Paikistan. Just like Zimbabwe they will fade out eventually. On the bright side India is on the semis. We can all watch the the best Cricketing side of the world and forget PAK

  • A on June 13, 2013, 20:24 GMT

    Misbah is best batsman in PAK one day line up, who was not even playing Int cricket few years ago tells the state of PAK batting now. I don't believe PAK has no batting talent as Azhar Ali and Sgafiq have proved themselves in test cricket. I believe selectors and the PCB are the problem who keep on picking tried and tested players. If players like Younis and Razzaq can be left out of the team then vastly less talented players like Shoaib, Imran and Akmal should not be selected at all. Another problem for the PAK batting is they are lacking another holding player like Misbah who can bat and occupy one end. The case of Hafiz is strange as well. He can bowl fairly well so still can play as an all rounder somewhere in the line up until a suitable replacement is available. PAK bowling is very decent and fast bowling is getting experienced. Seems like Wasim Akram's tip for the bowlers to be aggressive has paid off. Its been a very long time since I have enjoyed watching PAK fast bowling.

  • F on June 13, 2013, 15:09 GMT

    I like Misbah's run chasing strategy since last world cup semi final. He just blocks every ball, never takes a single until making sure the required run rate reaches 10 an over or above. He then gets out of his shell, make few big hits and gets out in the process without achieving any victory.

    This way he makes every one happy( his sponsors?, selectors and above all the management)..

    The only aggrieved party is us (the public). But does any one really cares???

    A below par batting line up was selected for obvious reason...does any one read between the lines???

  • Cricket on June 13, 2013, 12:19 GMT

    Also time to get rid of Mohammed Hafeez. His form was temporary only on the dead & docile UAE pitches. Now he is back to be below average ways. He was never fit for international cricket.


  • Khuraim on June 13, 2013, 8:54 GMT

    Everyone played horribly except our legendary Skipper Misbah ul Haq. Misbah is the only stable batsmen in our team. In his last 10 matches his average was 63.4. PCB should not change his position as chain. I

  • Yasir on June 13, 2013, 6:54 GMT

    I really liked a comment from a former Pak test cricketer.. He said that 'If we have to lose like that,why not then try the youngsters & groom then for the next WC' I agree on it as well..Senior & experienced players are given chance again & again because all hope to see them perform &save the team in crisis.Butif they are failing again & again then there is no need to reply on them.If the team has to lose anyways,then go for the youngstes