Hasan bounces back from India horror show
This was a must-win for Pakistan. They were given a hiding in their tournament opener. The bowlers came a cropper then. Now, they were up against a side that nearly made 300 in their first match. But this surface wasn't a flat batting deck. There was pace and bounce, right down Pakistan's alley.
South Africa were treading a cautious path against some superb swing bowling upfront. But the ball was a touch old when Hasan Ali was introduced in the 17th over. The onus was on him to build on the start, and he couldn't have done better: three big strikes, yorkers at the death, athleticism on the field and rocket throws, a stark contrast to his effort against India on Sunday, when he conceded 70 off his 10 overs.
Off his second delivery, Hasan delivered a body blow to South Africa by dismissing Faf du Plessis. Rooted to the crease, du Plessis wafted at a cross-seam delivery that stopped on him, only to chop on. That set a pattern to Hasan's overs - his ability to mix up accuracy through cross-seam deliveries and late inward movement to the left-hander proved a deadly combination under overcast skies.
Hasan did the bulk of his damage in his fourth over. He had just snuffed out JP Duminy to leave South Africa five down. Wayne Parnell walked in at No. 7. Sarfraz Ahmed set him up for an edge by bringing in second slip. Unlike the delivery that got Duminy, the one Hasan bowled to Parnell wasn't quite full. Parnell, mindful of the drive, looked to work the length ball to the leg side. So far, so good. But in trying to play from the crease, he played into Hasan's hands. The ball jagged away off the deck ever so slightly to beat the outside edge, hit the top of off stump and send it cartwheeling. South Africa were in tatters and Hasan went on to finish with 8-1-24-3.
The wow moment
For all Hasan's efforts with the ball, the moment that stood out was a piece of brilliance in the field. Just to put things into context, his poor effort to reprieve Yuvraj Singh at long-off cost Pakistan dearly against India. On Wednesday, Hasan's catch to dismiss Kagiso Rabada showed vast improvement. Fielding at mid-off, he showed excellent anticipation as Rabada sliced a lofted hit. The ball was swirling in the air, but in covering a good 20 yards or so to his right, Hasan ensured his eyes were off the ball at no stage. As it came down, he calmly settled underneath it to make a difficult catch look easy. Once the job was done, he held his arms aloft and coaxed the Pakistan fans to roar louder.
Stats that matter
- This was Hasan's sixth three-wicket haul in 18 ODIs. Since his debut in August 2016, he has taken as many three-fors as all the other Pakistan bowlers combined.
- These were Hasan's most economical ODI figures when he has bowled more than six overs, and his third-best overall.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo