December 13, 2002

South Africa come back from defeat to record incredible win

All but buried alive, South Africa came back from deaths door with an inspired spell of bowling from Captain Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini, bowling Pakistan out for 120 in 36.2 overs and winning the third Standard Bank One-Day International by 62 runs to take a two one series lead.

Pakistan with a simple task of chasing a target of 183, once again showed their inability to playing on a pitch that has a bit of pace and bounce by committing suicide in playing some very poor shots.

After their dismal batting performance, South Africa came out early after supper with all the bowlers warming up. A team huddle seemed to work as Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini put together a world class new-ball bowling performance to put the skids under the Pakistan top order. Fifteen overs of disciplined bowling left Pakistan at 40/5.

Saleem Elahi was never the same player he was in Port Elizabeth and after playing and missing to both the bowlers he eventually got the edge off Pollock for Jacques Kallis to take the catch that started the Pakistan rot at 20/1. Shahid Afridi, after another quick 16 edged Pollock to Mark Boucher.

Not to be outdone Ntini, bowling with fire, pace and bounce, grabbed the wickets of Abdur Razzaq caught at slip and Inzamam-ul-Haq caught behind. Four wickets had fallen with each batsman playing away from the body to balls that got big on them.

Pollock then suckered Yousuf Youhana into leaving outside off and then bringing one back perfectly, to the delight of the bowler, seeing the batsman shoulder arms and being bowled. At five wickets down for 39 Pakistan was in danger of rewriting the records books.

A change in bowling brought the veteran Allan Donald into the attack. His second over had Younis Khan back in the pavilion, also caught behind the wicket. Donald followed that up with his next ball to have Rashid Latif sparring and join the procession of batsmen caught at slip. Seven wickets down for 49 and Pakistan had lost a game that they could have won at a canter had it not been for the precision of the South African bowlers.

Jacques Kallis got rid of Saqlain Mushtaq before Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis put together a partnership of 46 runs. The two, more renowned for their wicket taking abilities, was an example to their more fancied batsmen of mixing patience with aggression.

Waqar, after giving a simple chance to Neil Dippenaar on the cover boundary, lost his wicket to Hall, once again caught at slip after following a ball outside off.

Wasim, 43 not out, at times had a little flourish, twice sending the ball into the stands, once off Pollock and the second off Klusener before Shoaib Akhtar was run out with Pakistan on 120 and handing South Africa a win as if Christmas came early.

The 120 beating the previous all time lowest of 98 by Sri Lanka, and the 109 by Pakistan, against South Africa.

Earlier, after discussions with local player Mark Boucher who had advised Pollock that "The grass will stand up in the evening", the captain decided to bat first on a pitch that was described as being "very good" by Waqar.

The decision was always under question with Waqar and Wasim putting the South Africans under a tremendous amount of pressure.

Herschelle Gibbs fell to Waqar for 13 when South Africa had 28 but it was not until the Rawalpindi Express, Akhtar, blasted out Smith and Boucher that the South African innings started to crumble. Bowling in excess of 155 kilometers per hour he was visually faster than anything seen in South Africa this season.

Saqlain joined the party taking the two quick wickets of Kallis and Rhodes leaving South Africa in dire straights at 81/4 and seemingly on the same path that they took in Port Elizabeth.

Pollock, lucky to survive a run out chance when television replays showed incomplete evidence and given the benefit of the doubt, batted well enough to end the innings on an undefeated 32.

With the last five wickets falling for 53 in 15.2 overs, South Africa was bowled out for 182, a mediocre total for a supposedly world number two one-day team.

A promising innings from Smith (44), who must now learn to start batting through an innings, and Dippenaar (47) allowed South Africa to set a total of 182, one that did not look to be enough on the pitch.

Pakistan can at times be its own worst enemy. One of the most unpredictable teams in modern cricket once again lacked the patience to put together a few small partnerships to cruise to victory. With the series heading for the quicker pitches of the Cape, this Pakistan outfit may just regret the chances they have squandered to win this series.