Pakistan v South Africa, 4th ODI, Abu Dhabi November 8, 2013

South Africa take series after see-saw game


South Africa 266 for 5 (de Kock 112, Junaid 2-42) beat Pakistan 238 (Misbah 65, Maqsood 56, Steyn 5-25) by 28 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Dale Steyn had just two overs left. Between him and AB de Villiers they decided to station a third man for Umar Akmal. On cue, the Pakistan gloveman tried to heave a full delivery over midwicket but got a leading edge to where South Africa had placed their tallest man. Morne Morkel judged the catch perfectly, avoiding the boundary and grabbing the ball. For Pakistan, that should have been a minor setback.

Three balls later, Misbah-ul-Haq tried to take Steyn on. He aimed where Akmal had been trying to go but he did not strike the ball cleanly. AB de Villiers came in from the boundary to take the catch. And two balls after that, Saeed Ajmal attempted a pull to a good length ball, missed and saw his stumps shattered.

In the space of an over, Dale Steyn had racked up his best bowling figures in ODI cricket. Pakistan had gone from 228 for 5 to 231 for 8 and the series was settled.

Six balls was all it took to undo the hard graft by Pakistan's opening pair, who put on their second successive stand of fifty-plus, and the effort of the debutant Sohaib Maqsood, who put his seniors to shame with an innings underlined by confidence and crafted with good technique. Six balls was all it took to ensure Pakistan run of two years and nine months without a successful chase of over 250 extended another day. And six balls was all it took to ensure South Africa's record of never having been defeated by Pakistan in a bilateral series intact.

The series scoreline as it stands now - 3-1 in favour of South Africa - is an accurate reflection of where the teams stand. Both have improved from the first match, when they made scoring 200 seem a task akin to climbing Everest, but South Africa's progress has accelerated past Pakistan, particularly in the batting department.

It has taken Quinton de Kock nine ODIs to produce the impact performance that suggests he belongs at this level but he delivered in a way that reflects his own growth. Having come on to the scene with a worrying looseness outside of the offstump and weakness against spin, he had done a lot of work and it showed.

De Kock had the advantage of Hashim Amla's experience in the opening passage of play and Amla was seen offering advice when run-scoring was difficult for de Kock early on. Amla asserted his authority over Mohammad Irfan and took the pressure off de Kock, who almost succumbed to it when he flashed to Mohammad Hafeez at slip on two but was dropped, to allow the younger batsman to play himself in.

De Kock's footwork helped him handle Pakistan's spinners with much more ease than he has done in the past and he rotated strike with AB de Villiers well. He gave South Africa a platform from which they could aim for a total of over 270.

Pakistan almost dragged South Africa back when they took three wickets in four overs but their seamers lacked control at the beginning and end of the innings while Ajmal went wicketless for the first time in 10 matches. They conceded 45 runs in the last five overs, leaving their batsmen with a tough task.

Ahmed Shehzad and Hafeez seemed up for it. They battled through a lean early period, scoring only eight runs in the first five overs, before breaking the shackles. Shehzad, as he has been throughout the series, drove, cut and pulled well. Hafeez was more tentative and more streaky, getting a few runs off the edge, but showed good patience.

After Shehzad's run-out - a result of not grounding his bat - Hafeez should have taken some responsibility but played for a legspinner as Imran Tahir got one to go straight on and was bowled. Lonwabo Tsotsobe deceived Asad Shafiq with extra bounce and Pakistan had lost three wickets in 15 deliveries to teeter on the brink of collapse.

Maqsood and Misbah put on 88 for the fourth wicket with the debutant showing his hard-hitting ability and Misbah continually moving across his stumps to his the ball behind square. They took on Tahir in particular but hit the South African seamers off their lines. Even though Pakistan had to chase at more than seven to the over, the target was not out of their sights.

De Villiers made astute bowling changes and brought Steyn back on in the second over of the Powerplay. Maqsood tried to take him on but was well caught by de Villiers at mid-on. From there, Morkel applied pressure, giving away only two runs in his eighth over and Pakistan had to attack Steyn.

Their plan of sending Sohail Tanvir up the order did not work and then they went into free fall. They lost five wickets for 10 runs which leaves Monday's final match in Sharjah a dead rubber.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Srinivas on November 12, 2013, 15:49 GMT

    I'm sure pakistan envy the world class batting resources of its classy neighbours and wish they had a piece of it. It's surprising what kind of batless wonders pakistan manages to manufacture without fail.

  • roberta on November 12, 2013, 8:53 GMT

    Pak played well this time, better done the ones played before!!

  • Manesh on November 11, 2013, 6:47 GMT

    Just wonder what is the role of Afridi. With all these experience he should take responsibility and take team to victory. It is not wise to keep him as a 'slogger' in the team. Even no:10 and 11 are more matured than him.

  • Rohit on November 11, 2013, 5:05 GMT

    It seems like comments on this article will go on and on. I feel only thing Pakistan has to do is pick batsman with good temperament. For example, if they need 65 off 50 balls say. They should bring it down to 30 off 18 balls (scoring run-a-ball with an odd boundary) if good bowlers are bowling instead of starting hitting out. They should rely on the batsman at the crease ending the match instead of new batsman so it does not even matter if the batting lineup is long or short. That is what Indian batsman do. And those who are against Misbah style of play ask the people not from Pakistan who they fear most in this batting line-up and i feel we fear Misbah the most (not Afridi or a Hafeez or a Jamshed). Abdul Razzaq and Azhar Mehmood are the last of the genuine all-rounders Pakistan has produced, they were hitters but had excellent temperament.

  • Ronny on November 10, 2013, 14:27 GMT

    Well Done and Well Played SA! On the other hand Pakistani Management should wake up to the reallity that with Hafeez in the team only despair shall be their fate! He's a permanent failure with the bat now therefore, for GOD SAKE get rid of him permanently and blood in some new players like Awais Zia etc. Misbah should only play as a player as he completely lacks the capacity of aggression. Younis should always be part of the team and maybe a team player an a fighter like Afridi should be captain again-dont expect miracles from Afridi at No. 7 when he has almost run out of partners. Actually this is the fruit of the bad intent seed that Misbah and Hafeez (The 2 interiguers) sowed, by forcefully fixing Hafeez at #3 to discard Younus and put Afridi at #7 to keep him out of the lime light. Sathi Sb! Save Pakistani Cricket and shunt these guys out or remove them from captaincies respectively for ODIz and T20z!

  • Hey on November 10, 2013, 14:24 GMT

    Last comment of mine. We really need to get rid of Afridi now and bring back Razzaq. Hafeez is very good, whether you like him or not, but he needs to bat down the order to avoid players like morkel and steyn. Misbah is a brill batsman but a terrible captain, he really needs to give the role to someone else, he defo needs to stay @number 4 or 5. Akmal needs to bat up the order, that's where he himself says he does the best, also we need a better wicketkeeper too, ideally Sarfraz Ahmed. Nasir Jamshed needs to return, no more Umar amin, Sohail Tanvir or Wahab Riaz. We need new players now. Playing XI Shehzad,Jamshed/Sharjeel Khan,Akmal,Maqsood,Ul Haq,Hafeez,Razzaq/Hammad Azam, Shahid Afridi(for bowling), Saeed Ajmal,Junaid Khan, Mohd Irfan. If these guys fail, don't hesitate to try different players. Main thing is, Hafeez should be captain(he's captained T20i very well) and Coach Whatmore should be no more. Pak, really is full of talent, but have nooo confidence at all.

  • Adnan on November 10, 2013, 11:49 GMT

    Here is what Pakistan needs to Play for the next 12 months without any changes: 1) Nasir Jamshed 2) Ahmed Shehzad 3) Sohaib Maqsood 4) Umer Akmal 5) Umer Amin 6) Mohammed Hafeez 7) Abdul Razaq 8) Shahid Afaridi 9) Saeed Ajmal 10) Mohamed Irfan 11) Junaid Khan 12) Asad Shafeq **(Back up for Umer Amin or Sohaib Maqsood)** 13) Wahab Riaz **(back up for Mohamed Irfan or Junaid Khan)** 14) Umer Gul (back up for Mohamed Irfan and Junaid Khan) I have also placed the batting order as well so there is no confusion. I hope someone can pick this up and think about it... You have right and left opener, you have left hand pace attack, you have two of the best all rounder (Afridi, Hafeez and Abdul Razaq) You have power hitting batsman (Umar Akmal, Shoaib and Umar Amin) Your batting line goes solid till

  • Yasir on November 10, 2013, 10:35 GMT

    All Pak fans are asking to try etc etc Players.I also agree but one thing i just cannot understand.When i look at my current team,i believe that it can beat any team out there.But when it comes to the match,our batsmen surrender quickly & lose their wickets.What's the solution of this thing.Changing the players wont solve this issue.Young players would come,fail & then would disappear from the cricketing world..Then what's the solution..Change the captain or coach?This is so sad to say it but it's a fact that i don't want to watch the matches of our teamany more..I've had enough of this up & down performance again & again.

  • Android on November 10, 2013, 9:46 GMT

    they are nt been able to gv chance to good players or pick nd also pakistan is suffering by icc's approach against pakistan cricket.

  • Shazia on November 10, 2013, 9:40 GMT

    I don't have any cluse why the new players don't get a chance… anyone who is not performing, or anyone whose role is not clear in the team must be out of the team. It is confusing to find out the exact roles of the players like Hafeez, Afridi, Akmal and Tanveer… they are being tried as a 'hope' not as a 'plan'. If a new guy like Maqsood can perform so good, why not try such players rather than giving chances again and again to the 'experienced' players. Most of them can even bowl as well, better than Hafeez and Afridi and Tanveer… but this grouping, selfishness and leg-pulling will not let the youngsters come in the team. Hafeez was the culprit in running out Shehzad and he tried the same for Shoaib. It seem funny when a youngster is batting better than Hafeez OR Afridi the 'seniors' and when this youngster hits a good shot, these seniors always come to him and tap their shoulder or head and start saying something to them… showing their 'seniority'... continued