Amla and De Villiers set up South Africa victory in 3rd ODI


25 overs Pakistan 133 for 5 (Misbah 10*, Afridi 0*) need 211 runs to beat South Africa 343 for 5 (Amla 122, de Villiers 128) and in 50 overs South Africa 343 for 5 (Amla 122, de Villiers 128) v Pakistan

South Africa were pretty and effective in pink as they took the series lead in a thriller at the Wanderers. But they almost saw red as Shahid Afridi scored his first half-century since February last year to keep Pakistan in the game well into its latter stages.

Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers shared a record third-wicket stand of 238 and scored at 7.84 to the over to set Pakistan a massive target before South Africa’s bowlers used variation to stub out any chance of a successful chase.

After taking a bruising the field, with the third seamer Wahab Riaz conceding 93 runs, the most number of runs by a Pakistan bowler in an ODI, they needed someone to bat through. Mohammed Hafeez appeared the man up for the task with an aggressive half-century, but middle order wobbles meant it was up to Afridi to bludgeon the team home and he almost did.

Full report to follow …

Pakistan stuttered and then slumped as they attempted to equal their highest total batting second in an ODI, in reply to South Africa’s 343 for 5. Mohammed Hafeez anchored the first third of the innings with an aggressive half-century but lost two partners before falling himself, with Pakistan still needing to score at more than seven runs an over.

Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed started conservatively against Dale Steyn but soon discovered a lack of swing and room to attack. Jamshed hit two boundaries but gave away his wicket early, when he chipped a good length ball to Hashim Amla at mid-off.

Kamran Akmal was promoted, a move that brought some success. He pounded on width from Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Steyn’s short balls to set the tone. While there was still a degree of circumspection to the approach, Hafeez and Akmal scored fairly quickly and managed to find the boundary 13 times in the 13 overs they were together, accumulating 82 runs.

Hafeez brought up a half-century with back-to-back sixes off Robin Peterson. They took Pakistan to 98 inside 17 overs before Akmal tried to uppercut a slower bouncer from Ryan McLaren but edged behind.

Hafeez retreated into a shell once Younis Khan arrived and eventually the frustration got to him. He holed out against Peterson to mid-on, where Dale Steyn, who has dismissed him five times on the tour, was waiting. South African celebrations were wild as they realised they had removed the biggest threat.

Younis hit two fours before his poor series continued and he played on, trying to cut Peterson. He played for turn but the delivery held its line to leave Misbah in yet another situation where he had to rescue the team. Shoaib Malik deserted him in the effort, going in the same way Jamshed did, and with only Shahid Afridi to come, South Africa sensed a series lead awaiting them.

When only 26 runs came off the first ten overs, it did not look like South Africa would post a 300-plus total, but Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers proved otherwise. The pair had a record third-wicket stand of 238 and scored at 7.84 to the over to set Pakistan a daunting task in the second half of the match at the Wanderers.

That, however, was not the only worry for the visiting team. Mohammed Irfan, the seven-foot fast bowler, left the field after he had bowled only seven overs. He returned briefly and then went off again. Irfan had come into the match with a hamstring strain that he picked up during the second ODI in Centurion.

He was one of only two bowlers to keep South Africa quiet for a while. Junaid Khan was the other, and the two were outstanding with the new ball, but none of the other bowlers sustained the pressure. Wahab Riaz missed his lengths and the spinners were cannon fodder for a pair of batsmen who moved their feet as well as they used their wrists.

Pakistan’s impressive start was the result of steep bounce from Irfan and movement into the right-hander from Junaid, who troubled Amla and had him given out lbw with his second ball, but the review showed it had pitched just outside leg. After 14 dot balls Graeme Smith’s patience ran out and he flayed to third man. His hastiness cost him when, in the same over, he chose to play at an Irfan delivery that bounced more than expected and took the inside edge onto his off stump.

Colin Ingram was in early again and drove Irfan through the covers and point imperiously as Pakistan started to offer some width. Still, they bowled 48 dot balls in the first ten overs and ensured South Africa’s frustration built. Irfan accounted for Ingram in his second spell but that was where the incision ended.

De Villiers hit the first boundary for 36 balls as soon as he arrived. His approach gave Amla the time he needed to settle in. He was also given a lifeline on 36, when Mohammad Hafeez dropped a straightforward catch at point.

Just as de Villiers and Amla were beginning to feel comfortable, Pakistan turned to spin. Saeed Ajmal was saved until the halfway point in the innings but even he was targeted. De Villiers and Amla played a range of shots as eye-catching as the pink kit they were wearing: sweeps, reverse-sweeps, lofts, pushes, glances and cuts, all expertly timed and sprinkled with delicate touches.

De Villiers twirled his wrists to beat point and third man, and moved across his off stump to ramp Wahab Riaz over short fine leg. He fell in the process but never lost control of the shot. His back-to-back sixes off Hafeez, a slog sweep and then a smash over extra cover, where arguably his best today.

Amla’s placement was his hallmark, as he peppered the covers with beautiful drives. He mixed that with aggression, smacking Afridi over long-off.

As the stand grew and the pair threw caution to the wind, they both fell. Amla was caught at extra cover and de Villiers top-edged to midwicket after bringing up the 300. Their dismissals did little to lift Pakistan.

Faf du Plessis promptly scored the most runs off an over in the innings when he dispatched Wahab for 20 runs: two shots were streaky edges to third man but the two sixes were anything but lucky. A straight one and one to deep midwicket underlined du Plessis cameo, which took South Africa to over 340. Wahab removed him at the end, little consolation for conceding the most runs by a Pakistan bowler in an ODI – 93.

 Sources by: ESPNcricinfo