First ten overs decided the match - Misbah
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq said his team had effectively won the Centurion ODI in the first ten overs of the South Africa innings, when the hosts had lost four wickets. Mohammad Irfan, the left-arm fast bowler, inflicted the maximum damage with figures of 4 for 33 to restrict South Africa to 191, which Pakistan chased within 40 overs to seal an emphatic win after a poor showing in the first one-dayer. AB de Villiers, the South Africa captain, said he was expecting a backlash from Pakistan.
"To take four wickets in ten overs was good," Misbah said. "That's where we won the game. Teams batting first struggle to come back from that."
Irfan removed Hashim Amla, de Villiers, Colin Ingram and Faf du Plessis in a lengthy opening spell that lasted seven overs to leave South Africa reeling at 62 for 5 in 11 overs. Misbah gave credit to the entire bowling unit, including the spinners, who didn't let South Africa recover. Misbah himself played an important part in the victory, scoring an unbeaten 57.
"We believed we would be able to come back and now we erased some doubts," Misbah said. "The bowlers supported Irfan, especially the spinners. There is more confidence in the team now, especially because some batsmen who were not scoring runs, did. We had some starts and wickets fell for 20s and 30s. We really needed to take responsibility and just go on."
De Villiers gave due credit to Irfan, whose spell had thwarted South Africa's plans of getting to a par score of 250. He said no team could afford to relax against an attack like Pakistan's.
"Irfan bowled really well and got wickets at important times. He really has the ability to get breakthroughs for his team. That's what makes a good bowler a great bowler. At the right moments, he got wickets," de Villiers said. "Pakistan have a very good bowling line-up and we've known that. It's not new to face them but we have to apply ourselves better."
De Villiers, too, conceded that the first ten overs had all but decided the match. "The important thing for the next game is to start better, to adapt and to assess better. The four down in ten overs is unacceptable in ODI cricket," he said. "Most teams would lose the match from there. We have to start better."
He said the Pakistan batsmen applied themselves better. "When we were fielding, the ball got a little bit wet which made it tough to swing away. If we got two more wickets, we would have been into the tail. We tried everything but Misbah played too well. He left really well. I tried all our seamers at different angles, I tried Robin Peterson and nothing worked."
De Villiers expected his side to bounce back in more seamer-friendly conditions at the Wanderers, the venue for the third ODI on Sunday. The one crucial setback for Pakistan is that Irfan has suffered a hamstring niggle, putting him in doubt for the third game.