Pakistan v South Africa, 2nd T20, Dubai November 15, 2013

Du Plessis, bowlers secure 2-0 win


South Africa 150 for 5 (du Plessis 58*, Amla 48, Ajmal 3-25) beat Pakistan 144 for 9 (Maqsood 37, Parnell 3-25) by six runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Dale Steyn bowled it full, Shahid Afridi hit it cleanly, the boundary was in sight but there was something in the way. Faf du Plessis moved to his left, cupped his hands and snatched the ball out of the sky. In that moment, the match and the series was won.

It ended a period in which Pakistan lost six wickets for 38 runs in the space of 32 balls, which included a South African team hat-trick, to collapse one final time in the limited-overs leg of the tour. They squandered a good start and a resilient effort by Sohaib Maqsood, surrendered to a South African attack which has been exceptional throughout the series and left themselves with a lot of questions ahead of the return leg in South Africa.

For du Plessis, there are no such worries. His team has jumped to No. 2 in the Twenty20 rankings, behind India by one hundreth of a decimal point, showed composure and confidence with bat in hand and defended with venom.

Although South Africa's bowling won them the match, their foundation for victory was set-up by a batting line-up which has progressed through their visit to the UAE. They had an explosive start from Quinton de Kock followed by a hard-hitting fifty from du Plessis and both contributed to an above-par total.

De Kock took on both Irfan and Abdul Razzaq, whose medium pace was ineffective upfront. Irfan left the field with what looked like a hip injury in his second over, leaving Pakistan without their most imposing player but Sohail Tanvir assumed the responsibility. He bowled a tight opening over before spin was introduced and Pakistan clawed their way back.

Saeed Ajmal tempted de Kock with flight and had him caught in the deep slog-sweeping. That wicket made Ajmal T20's highest wicket-taker, going past his compatriot Umar Gul and kept South Africa quiet for a little while.

Hashim Amla had quietly watched de Kock, without scoring many, but targeted Afridi. Amla took a risk when he hit him inside-out over extra cover and then tried to launch it back over Afridi's head. Instead, he presented a catchable chance but Afridi spilled it. Dropping Amla often proved costly in the next over when he hit Mohammad Hafeez over long-on for six.

At the halfway stage, South Africa were 67 for 1 and du Plessis decided to up the ante. He also took on Afridi, finding good placement down the ground and brought up South Africa's 100 with a premeditated slog-sweep off Ajmal. Amla played one more big shot, off Shoaib Malik, before holing out off Ajmal.

Pakistan used that as an opportunity to drag South Africa back. They gave away just 35 runs in the last five overs and punctured the middle order, leaving du Plessis to muscle his way to the end. Tanvir made good use of the slower ball while Ajmal ensured questions over David Miller's ability against spin will continue to be questioned as he trapped him lbw.

In between that, du Plessis reached his fourth T20 half-century, much-needed runs in what has been a lean tour for him. He may remember his innings a little less than the catch that sealed the match which came after Pakistan's opening pair posed 39 in the first five overs.

Both Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad took on Lonwabo Tsotsobe before Wayne Parnell undid their start. He had Shehzad caught at fine leg, as he went on the pull, and Hafeez lbw for a first-ball duck. Hafeez was the victim of a poor decision but with no technology available to contest it, Pakistan had to focus on rebuilding rather than being wronged.

When Jamshed became the third wicket to fall in nine balls, Pakistan could have unraveled but Maqsood and Malik found a good balance between attack and defence. They went after anything short while treating Imran Tahir with respect as he found sharp turn.

Malik had his innings interrupted when he had to retire with a finger injury which brought Umar Akmal to the crease. He batted with his usual aggression but started the collapse when he hooked a Ryan McLaren short ball straight to Tahir. When he departed, Pakistan needed 50 runs off 39 balls and were still in control.

Malik returned, only to chop Tahir onto his stumps before Razzaq left a googly and was bowled. When Maqsood was caught behind, brilliantly as de Kock dived to his right, the equation had tipped. Pakistan needed 39 off 29 balls but had only three wickets in hand.

Tanvir and Afridi could still get them over the line but Tanvir was bowled by Steyn - who turned the pace up as his spell came to an end - and then there was that catch. Game, set, catch, match. Pakistan's fight was over.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 16, 2013, 17:16 GMT

    What Pakistan team has selected for SA tour, thereafter no question remains SA will win again another series in their home ground . Pakistan seriously lack in Batting department because of this biased selection system this selection cant be justified in any way by PCB its just rotating few below average players after every series loss and tournament loss to keep the bigger audience quiet and bringing in players from influential background with no credibility. If they were sincere with this cause the team would have been this: 1)Azhar Ali (Bat Average)50 (2)Sharjeel Khan 52 (3)Sohaib Maqsood 52 4)Misbah-ul-Haq 48 5)Khurram Manzoor 47 6)Umar Akmal 36 7)Hafeez 33 8)Abdul Razzaq 30 9)Saeed Ajmal 10)Junaid Khan 11)Mohammad Irfan/Umar Gul In Squad: Taufeeq Umar 40 (bat) (wk) ,Umar Gul (bowl), , Abdur Rehman (bowl),S.tanvir (bowl), Fawad Alam 46(bat),Khalid Latif 48(bat) ,Afaq Raheem 47(bat). Play this team anytime they will be excellent in field with bat or bowl Allah willing. But PCB.....

  • Srivatsan on November 16, 2013, 16:24 GMT

    @deshwani: I partially agree.. but that was australian team in the 90's (pre t20 era).. If pakistan could have fielded well and took catches properly and save 10-15 runs.. they wouldn't have lost so many matches.. I think difference is batting and fielding.. youngsters may fail so what atleast they ll learn to win another day..

  • Taimur on November 16, 2013, 15:26 GMT

    Its disgusting performance by Pakistan, We are the best T20 team in the world, and they should play like champions...Hafeez needs to take challenge of Styen and whack him which he can do it.. just need to lift themselves, i am positive they can do it.. Pak should take revent and kick SA at their home, and I am positive its only Pakistan that can do it....

  • Wajahat on November 16, 2013, 13:17 GMT

    @cricktwins... age is not a big difference .. you can check 90s Aus team in which all players was above 30.. and what was their performance!!!!

  • Shaikh on November 16, 2013, 12:51 GMT

    More the shoiab malil and haffez play , more loss should be expected.

    Stop playing hafeez and malik should have retire 5 yrs back

    umar akmal is playing to just keep family rotation of 3 brothers.

    why Misbah ul haq not in team

  • usman on November 16, 2013, 12:03 GMT

    You cannot beat a top team in the world, if one or two of your players are not on merit. Hammaz Azam may well have tipped the 5-run balance yesterday with ease.

  • Srivatsan on November 16, 2013, 11:44 GMT

    Razzaq-33 years, malik 31, Afridi-33,Abdur rehman-33, saeed ajmal-36, Hafeez-33 years, kamran akmal- 31 years,younis khan -35,misbah- 39, mohd irfan-31 years..

    Youngest team in the world!! And they bat and field like amateurs..

  • Saleem on November 16, 2013, 11:10 GMT

    Basis following factors, Pakistan cricket think-tanks are responsible for on-going debacle. 1) "Lack of planning" to unearth future players is nonexistent. 2) "Murder of merit" while selecting the team - deserving young/upcoming players are ignored and persevering with MUMMIES (players whose shelf-life expired long time back). In present scenario, its O.K. to give exposure to young players and LOSE matches - definitely in due course will unearth talented batsmen. 3) No strategic planning to see-off/counter short pitched stuff and batsmen remain clueless against swinging balls. Who is in charge of video analysis ?????? 4) Its evident that the present lot desperately need a psychiatrist to boost up mental strength. *** P.C.B. need to realize that after the decline of hockey and squash, cricket is only sports popular among the masses and must react quickly and take appropriate measures to address the batting problems.

  • ESPN on November 16, 2013, 10:56 GMT

    When your young lads make player like afridi an inspiration , this is what happens. We don't see any batting talent in Pakistan . Everyone likes to be afridi and the world knows how bad afridi is.

  • Dummy4 on November 16, 2013, 10:45 GMT

    @bouncer709: the names you are mentioning , i already wrote that these should not be playing. i think you dont even read more than afridi's name in comment? Where did i said that hafeez/malik/amin should play& afridi not play ? :)

    Agree with you about all the names you wrote mate.

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