Pakistan v South Africa, 3rd ODI, Dubai November 2, 2010

Nervy South Africa hang on for win


South Africa 228 for 9 (Amla 119*, Shoaib 3-39) beat Pakistan 226 for 9 (Fawad 59*, Morne Morkel 4-47) by two runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

They fell apart again at the death but ultimately a hundred from Hashim Amla and four wickets from Morne Morkel were just about enough to sneak South Africa home in the third ODI in Dubai. A second death-overs meltdown in two games let Pakistan come within two runs, but a 2-1 series lead was secured.

South Africa were exceptional for 42 overs in defending 229. Pakistan had just lost Abdul Razzaq, they needed 76 on a sluggish, boundary-shy surface: game over. But Morkel, Rusty Theron and Lonwabo Tsotsobe lost their minds, nerves, lengths and lines. Fielders began to drop catches as Wahab Riaz, of all batsmen, smashed an 11-ball 21 and, with Fawad Alam, pillaged 56 runs in the Powerplay. Ultimately, despite a panic-stricken last over from Theron, Pakistan just didn't have enough batsmen. Alam remained unbeaten on 59, valiant but not deal-sealing.

Before that, Morkel and Tsotsobe had opened with sterling spells. The visitors have made light of Dale Steyn's absence, mainly because Tsotsobe has had a fine series. He is uncomplicated, using the natural left-arm angle well and has subtle changes in pace. If he hasn't bowled an outstanding spell that will stick in the mind, neither has he bowled a poor one. Today was no different.

Having Morkel at the other end, bowling with unspeaking meanness, helps. Morkel gave nothing away for long, not on width, not on length; both the pace and bounce added to an unceasing atmosphere. One over to Younis Khan was particularly good, five dot balls which left him nowhere to go but out, and he was, off the last ball.

The first ten overs ceded 23 and one boundary. With Pakistan not going anywhere, the fielding took over. In any case Imran Farhat was as lively as a library and as awake as a morgue to scoring opportunities. The arrival of Asad Shafiq got things moving but so tightly did South Africa police the field that a run-out looked inevitable. Eventually it came breaking a labored but vital 85-run stand. Soon after, a cramping Shafiq went the same way. Morkel returned, just as mean, and dismissed Shahid Afridi. He set the tone for Razzaq, bowling short or shortish, and giving him nothing remotely full and that should have been that.

But if nothing else, Amla's fifth hundred of the year, a masterful knock deserved the win. But for him South Africa would've been nowhere and we would've been lauding a match-winning spell from Shoaib Akhtar.

From the start, there were two pitches, one for Amla and another, sluggish one, for the rest. He hit nine out of his side's total 12 boundaries. Two in the first over solidified the impression that he has batted in one unbroken stretch since the first ODI. Where others couldn't time it, he glided along, utilizing the modern batsman's get-out clause - a dab to third man - liberally.

Occasionally he improvised, but mostly he just stayed cool. That helped, given the outrageous decision that sent back AB de Villiers. An important partnership had been constructed when in Afridi's first over, TV umpire Zameer Haider chose to give de Villiers out stumped when he was distinctly in. Others gave Amla some support but it was a one-man job.

A brace of boundaries paved the way for a hassle-free fifty just before the halfway mark. Then he disappeared, quietly picking off runs here and there. He emerged once on 78, when Shafiq dropped a sharp chance at cover, and again when cutting Saeed Ajmal twice to move into the 90s.

A dab to third man - what else? - brought up the hundred just before the batting Powerplay became mandatory. He then found the odd boundary, a classy drive past mid-off and a rare, ungainly pull, but most importantly he stayed unbeaten till the end, not sweating at all.

Shoaib's work thus took a back seat. Amid standard turmoil this year, Shoaib has quietly managed as impressive a comeback as any of his previous ones. He still has the pace, but the shortened run-up and seemingly permanent limp, reduces the visual a little. The smarts are very much intact.

He stifled South Africa at the start, rolling in casually and mixing up some solid length bowling with excellent changes of pace; no less a man than Jacques Kallis, returning for Robin Peterson, was deceived by one. Colin Ingram could only pop another slower one back soon after.

This was the 11th ODI in a row Shoaib has played since his return earlier this year for the Asia Cup , the longest, unbroken stretch he has had since 2002 (joint-second longest ever in his career). Any questions over his fitness were forgotten in later spells. He gave one run in two overs during the middle, even making the set-as-cement Amla jump around. He then came back to rattle and shake Johan Botha, only a poor last over to regret. Eleven came off that, important in the big picture.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • zain on November 4, 2010, 20:46 GMT

    Listen to the bull S-it from Mr.Murtaza, "....his own batting form not upto the standards and he admitted that he needs some break." His out of form performance is twice as good as Imran Farhat and this new dude Asad! If all the players that are currently in Pakistani team are "in form" then God help us. If this is what "in form" means for pakistani players, then i am sure my own club can take on them here in the US.

  • Dummy4 on November 4, 2010, 13:54 GMT

    the team only depend upon the following guys razzaq afridi fawad akhtar. what are the other guys doing in the side. in this serreis and in other they had won the game for pakistan and for afridi.

  • Dummy4 on November 4, 2010, 13:52 GMT

    well i will say that team needs only opener they should find out wether hafeez can open or not and in other hand there is kamran akmal. these two openers should be open the side up to world cup. shoib akhtar umar gull and wahab riaz should attack. why is saeed ajmal not balling at his best. why are the other boys not playing heartly.other then afridi razzaq fawad and akhtar

  • Dummy4 on November 4, 2010, 9:02 GMT

    I think Fawad Alam played sensibly,yes he was not able to hit big shots but i think it was the fault of Imran Farhat's slow innings that lost us the game. I think Fawad has got good enough talent to be in the middle order of the Paksitani team. He won the player of the series award in the 2006 domestic T20 tournament he was also the highest wicket taker in that tournament.He also won a T20 I against Sri Lanka in Toronto hitting 2 sixes in the last over. I think he needs a little more confidence from the fans and the management and he will be able to hit 4's and 6's.He also scored 168 in his debut test as an opener and since then he has only played 3 tests which i dont know why.

  • Dummy4 on November 4, 2010, 3:07 GMT

    I don't know why people so wobbling with not inclusion of Imran Nazir in the national side, when his own batting form not upto the standards and he admitted that he needs some break. I don't know why people want to include an out of form player in the national side...

  • Mudasir on November 4, 2010, 0:26 GMT

    @hrasiq buddy we dont have much time to get new players in,as world cup in not too far away .i think we should stick with this odi team till world cup . kamran akmal,shahid afridi,younis khan,mohd yousuf,abdul razack,umer akmal ,misbah ,shoaib malik,mohd sami,umer gul ,shoiab akther . extras,imran nazir,mohd hafeez,rana naveed ,suhail tanvir....After world cup we can get in new players .we dont have any chance if team will have .imran farhat, asad shaif ,shazaib hassan,zulkarnain haider,wahab raiz,saeed ajmal,fawad alam .

  • Fizza on November 3, 2010, 23:18 GMT

    I dont think we should critisize Fawad Alam. At least he tried n did whatever he could. Yep, he cant hit 4s or 6s... all we needed was a 4. But Blame bhanja jee- Imran Farhat. He was just playin 4himself. Used up too many balls. Yeah Shoaib had muscle, he should've been sent before Ajmal. The only reason that didnt happen, is cz Afridi goes into a coma during the death time. All he can manage then is to nail-bite... cool minded skipper-advice is out of the question!

  • Dummy4 on November 3, 2010, 19:06 GMT

    Afridi likes to be captain , but he is not capibal to do any format captaincy

    Jeo Supper team : Fawad Alam, captain Fawad Alam vice captain , wk keeper Fawad Alam,Fawad Alam,Fawad Alam,Fawad Alam,Fawad Alam,Fawad Alam,Fawad Alam,Fawad Alam, team manager Fawad Alam,l Asad shafiq , faisal Iqbal Fawad Alam,Fawad Alam, 11.Fawad Alam,




  • Iqbal on November 3, 2010, 17:20 GMT

    Well, it was something within Pakistan's grasp, yet, it turned out to be a heart-breaking loss in the end. It remains to be seen how this team can get into the winning column when it clearly depends on a limited number of players to do the "job" for them on many an occasion, especially if there is a potential winnable situation. Why is there. apparently, a feeling of uncertainty prevalent as far as Plan A or Plan B is concerned? To be counted as a fighting unit, and a professional one, Pakistan needs to come out of this situation and start playing the game of Imran's and Miandad's times. While Fawad Alam might be a reasonably good batsman in the middle-order, he clearly lacks the will and know-how to deliver the final blow to the opponents and get over the finish line, as was so well demonstrated by Razzak in the previous match. Moreover, Afridi himself needs to re-learn the technique of first digging in and then lashing out at opportune moments and not just start swinging right away.

  • zain on November 3, 2010, 16:35 GMT

    Had IMRAN NAZIR been give chances as much as Afridi, the skies the limit for pakistan. why isn't he playing for pakistan in T20 and ODIs? PCB deserves to be in a situation its in due to the fact about incompetent leaders such as Butt and Afridi. Didn't Afridi said that he doesn't even know why he played that shot the other day when asked about after getting out as usual? The guy can't figure it out after playing almost 250 ODIs to why he do stupid things he does? Bring IMRAN NAZIR back if they want to win the series. This guy does things in 5 overs what these imcompetent openers can't do in 15!

  • No featured comments at the moment.