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A hostile trio of Pakistan left-arm fast bowlers took full advantage of a pitch freshened by rain to hand pre-tournament favourites South Africa their second defeat in the cricket World Cup at Eden Park on Saturday.
Man-of-the-match Sarfraz Ahmed equalled the world record for catches by a wicketkeeper in a one-day international with six dismissals, taking his final catch as rain swept across the ground.
Set 232 to win off 47 overs on the Duckworth-Lewis method after Pakistan had scored 222 from 46.4 overs in an innings twice interrupted by rain, South Africa were dismissed for 202 from 33.3 overs after a thrilling counter-attack from AB de Villiers.
The South African skipper threatened to win the game on his own but when he became the ninth wicket to fall, caught behind for 77 from 58 deliveries, the task was too much.
Rahat Ali was the most successful of the Pakistan bowlers with three for 40. Mohammad Irfan and Wahab Riaz, also took three with the latter, despite taking some punishment from de Villiers, impressing again with his pace and hostility.
After Quinton de Kock had edged Irfan's second ball to Sarfraz, Hashim Amla started as if he wanted to score the runs by himself.
Amla's first seven scoring shots were boundaries and he became the tournament's highest run scorer on his way to 38 before he gave Sarfraz his third consecutive catch.
Wickets then tumbled swiftly, leaving de Villiers watching impassively at the other end. He flicked Wahab to square leg for four and hooked a six in the same over and looked to be taking his team to victory when he edged Sohail Khan to Sarfraz.
Wahab wrapped up a 29-run victory when Imran Tahir gave Sarfraz his record-equalling catch.
Pakistan struggled throughout their innings with their top order batsmen failing to capitalise on some promising starts and their tail succumbing tamely.
Captain Misbah-ul-Haq once again anchored his team's batting with 56 off 86 balls while Dale Steyn was the pick of the South African bowlers, taking three for 30 from his 10 overs and bowling with fierce pace and control from both ends.
Sarfraz, who opened the batting, looked to be taking charge when he lofted off-spinner JP Duminy over wide long on for three sixes in an over.
In the following over, though, he was run out for 49 attempting a risky second run which would have brought up his half-century following sharp work by David Miller at square leg.
The experienced Younis Khan, returning to the Pakistan side in place of the injured Haris Sohail, reached 37 when he poked de Villiers's gentle medium pace to Rilee Rossouw at cover.
Sohaib Maqsood followed for eight with an equally tame catch to the same fielder at point.
South Africa innings
Pakistan registered an amazing 29-run victory via D/L method against South Africa to give the crucial push to the knock out stage.
This was the first victory for against a big team in this World Cup.
Needing 232 to win from 47 overs, South Africa kept losing wickets at regular intervals as Pakistan bowlers kept creating pressure.
AB de Villiers stood firm to almost pull of the match smashing a 58-ball 77 including seven boundaries and five sixes but after fell it was just a matter of time before Pakistan bowlers folded up things at 202 in 33.3 overs.
For Pakistan, Mohammad Irfan, Rahat Ali and Wahab Riaz picked up three wickets each while Sarfraz Khan set the record for highest number of catches by a Pakistan wicket keeper in ODIs.
Earlier, Pakistan managed to reach 222 all out in 46.4 overs in a rain-affected match that saw the number of overs reduced to 47.
While skipper Misbah-ul-Haq top scored with a patient 56, Sarfraz Ahmed gave a fine start to Pakistan with a fine 49 from as many balls.
Younus Khan managed to find some form scoring 37 and Shahid Afridi made a quick 22.
For South Africa, Dale Steyn picked three wickets while Kyle Abbott and Mornie Morkel claimed two each.
SOUTH AFRICA INNINGS
Imran Tahir is out as Sarfraz Ahmed takes sixth his catch to break the record of most catches in an ODI by a Pakistani wicketkeeper. SA 202 all out in 33.3 overs.
Imran Tahir c Sarfraz Ahmed b Wahab Riaz 0 (7m 6b 0x4 0x6)
South Africa's dangerman De Villiers departs and Pakistan players are all over the place celebrating the big wicket. It's just one more wicket for a big victory. SA 200-9 in 32.2 overs.
AB de Villiers c Sarfraz Ahmed b Sohail Khan 77 (58b 7x4 5x6)
After a brief fruitful stay Abbott is finally gone after Younus holds on to a fine catch in the slips to give Rahad Ali his third wicket. SA 172-8 in 29.2 overs.
Kyle Abbott c Younis Khan b Rahat Ali 12 (19b 2x4 0x6)
De Villiers reaches his half century with a superb six. He gets it in 45 balls including four boundaries and three sixes.
De Villiers is on 43. With 78 requried of 114 balls, Pakistan will look for this important wicket. SA 154-7 in 28 overs.|
Irfan picks his third wicket as Steyn departs. South Africa's final hope De Villiers is at the other end. SA 138-7 in 24 overs.
Dale Steyn c Sarfraz Ahmed b Mohammad Irfan 16 (17b 3x4 0x6)
Pakistan look to be in command at the moment as they pick up another wicket. JP Duminy falls after Riaz takes a fine catch in the deep. SA 102-6 in 19.4 overs.
JP Duminy c Wahab Riaz b Mohammad Irfan 12 (13b 2x4 0x6)
South Africa in trouble as Miller succumbs after Ali traps him. Brilliant bowling from the left-arm pacer as he picks up his second wicket. SA 77-5 in 15.5 overs.
David Miller lbw b Rahat Ali 0 (13b 0x4 0x6)
Riaz picks another important wicket as South Africa looks to be in trouble. SA 74-4 in 12.2 overs.
Rilee Rossouw c Sohail Khan b Wahab Riaz 6 (9b 1x4 0x6)
Big wicket for Pakistan as Amla departs. Credit to Safraz Ahmed who took a fantastic catch behind the wickets. SA 67-3 in 10.1 overs.
Hashim Amla c Sarfraz Ahmed b Wahab Riaz 38 (27b 9x4 0x6)
Pakistan badly needed a wicket after Amla threatened the game away from them. SA 67-2 in 9.3 overs.
F du Plessis c Sarfraz Ahmed b Rahat Ali 27 (29b 3x4 1x6)
Amla looks in fine nick as he drives a lovely boundary to reach 12. SA 23-1 in 5 overs.
Great start for Pakistan as Irfan snaps a wicket early in his first over. De Kock gets a edge straight to the keeper. Pak 0-1 in 0.2 overs.
Quinton de Kock c Sarfraz Ahmed b Mohammad Irfan 0 (2b 0x4 0x6)
Target revised to 232 via D/L method.
No much contributions lower the order as the last wicket of Pakistan tumbles. Sohail Khan offers a simple catch to give Morkel his second wicket. Pak 222 all out in 46.4 overs.
Sohail Khan c Duminy b Morkel 3 (11b 0x4 0x6)
Third wicket for Steyn as Rahat Ali cant clear the short mid-on. Pak 221-9 in 45.2 overs.
Rahat Ali c Imran Tahir b Steyn 1 (6b 0x4 0x6)
Nothing going right for Pakistan as they lose another wicket. Misbah played a patient knock before offering a simple catch at third man to Morkel. Pak 218-8 in 43.5 overs.
Misbah-ul-Haq c Morkel b Steyn 56 (86b 4x4 0x6)
Wahab Riaz is gone without troubling the scorer after he is trapped in front by Tahir. Pak 212-7 in 42.1 overs.
Wahab Riaz lbw b Imran Tahir 0 (1b 0x4 0x6)
A lovely six from Afridi gave cheer to the spectators before he disappointed them the very next ball attempting a similar shot and offering a catch in the deep to Duminy. Pak 212-6 in 41.4 overs.
Shahid Afridi c Duminy b Steyn 22 (15b 1x4 2x6)
It's back to some action in the middle as Afridi smashes a boundary immediately. The match has been reduced to 47 overs. Pak 203-5 in 41 overs.
Another brief drizzle stops play. Pak 197-5 in 40.1 overs.
Misbah gets a fine half century from 73 deliveries. His innings included four boundaries. Pak 196-5 in 40 overs.
That was a short rain and Afridi takes charge as soon as he arrives smashing a six off Tahir. Pak 184-5 in 38 overs
Rain stops play as it gets heavier. Heavy clouds over the stadium does not look good at all. The covers have been brought. Pak 175-5 in 37 overs.
That's another big blow for Pakistan as Umar Akmal departs. He began confidently with a couple of fine boundaries but succumbed attempting to pull Morkel. Pak 175-5 in 36.5 overs.
Umar Akmal c de Villiers b Morkel 13 (20b 2x4 0x6)
Pakistan lose another wicket. Just when things seem to be settling down for Pakistan they lose a batsman. It can prove costly during the last 10 overs. Pak 156-4 in 32 overs.
Sohaib Maqsood c Rossouw b Abbott 8 (16b 1x4 0x6)
Pakistan's run rate throughout has been fairly impressive maintaining it close to five per over. Misbah is batting on 26 while Maqsood is on eight. Pak 147-3 in 30 overs.
Younus Khan is gone as he offers a simple catch to Rossouw at cover off de Villiers. Pak 132-3 in 26.4 overs
Younus Khan c Rossouw b de Villiers 37 (44b 4x4 0x6)
A crucial partnership of 37 runs gathered from the experienced Younus and Misbah. It's an important one for Pakistan to post a big total. Pak 129-2 in 26 overs.
A fine cut from Younus Khan takes Pakistan to the three-digit mark. Pak 104-2 in 19 overs.
That's a bad blow for Pakistan. In a bid to reach his half century Sarfraz calls for a second run but a quick fielding and throw from the deep off Miller has Sarfraz caught short of the crease. Pak 92-2 in 16.4 overs.
Sarfraz Ahmed run out 49 (49b 5x4 3x6)
Back to back sixes from Sarfraz takes his partnership with Younus to 50. He hammers the third one to Duminy to reach 48. Pak 90-1 in 16 overs.
Sarfraz on 30 while Younus bats on 18. Pak 69-1 in 15 overs.
Sarfraz and Younus Khan looking good. They have a steady partnership of 24 runs already in 20 balls. Pak 54-1 in 12 overs.
Steyn takes a stunning catch in the deep to give the Proteas their first wicket. He runs backwards before diving full stretch to complete the catch. Pak 30-1 in 8.4 overs.
Ahmed Shehzad c Steyn b Abbott 18 (30b 4x4 0x6)
Openers Shehzad and Safraz taking their time to settle down but ensuring they don't surrender their wickets cheaply against a poised South African pacers. Pak 18-0 in 6 overs.
Impressive start from South African pacers particularly Steyn who had two maidens from his two overs. SA 7-0 in 3 overs.
Shehzad and Sarfraz open for Pakistan after South Africa won the toss and chose to field. The dangerous Dale begins proceedings for the Proteas. 1-0 in 1 over.
Pakistan: Ahmed Shehzad, Sarfraz Ahmed, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Wahab Riaz, Sohail Khan, Rahat Ali, Mohammad Irfan
South Africa: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers, Rilee Rossouw, David Miller, JP Duminy, Dale Steyn, Kyle Abbott, Mornie Morkel, Imran Tahir
A pair of comfortable wins after two losses to start the World Cup have given a more settled look to Pakistan but the 1992 champions still seem to have no clue as to how to solve their opener problem.
Pakistan's troubles started when all-rounder and regular opener Mohammad Hafeez was ruled out with a calf muscle injury a week before the World Cup, and the team flew out Nasir Jamshed as a replacement.
Senior batsman Younis Khan, desperately in need of runs, was moved up to partner Ahmed Shehzad at the top in Pakistan's opening match against arch-rivals India but the experiment failed as the 37-year-old managed just six runs.
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The out-of-form Younis lost his place in the wake of the 76-run loss to their bitter rivals, giving Jamshed the chance to claim the spot of the second opener.
However, the 25-year-old has since scored just five runs in his three outings.
Adding to his struggles with the bat, Jamshed has been extremely poor in the outfield, his dropped catches making him the target of barracking from the crowd.
While Pakistani media have called for the dashing Sarfraz to be given a chance as Shehzad's partner, Pakistan coach Waqar Younis is not convinced the 27-year-old has the right technique for conditions in Australia and New Zealand.
"Sarfraz is a wicketkeeper-batsman and plays at number six or seven," the former Pakistan fast bowler added.
"You have to see the conditions and no doubt Sarfraz is an asset. But you can't bet on his career and what if his technique is not suited to the conditions here?"
Sarfraz has played 36 ODIs for Pakistan and his inclusion will also be a relief for Umar Akmal, who has been far from confident with the gloves.
Pakistan is desperate to win and secure a spot in the quarter-finals, while South Africa wants to continue its run of good form.
Rain is threatening to interrupt the match, a factor which could push both teams into batting more aggressively to ensure they maintain high run rates.
New Zealand's MetService is predicting moderate rain showers to hit at about 6pm during the day-night match, a slight improvement from previous forecasts predicting heavy showers.
The covers remained on the pitch much of Friday as showers came and went.
South Africa has three wins and one loss from its four matches. It scored more than 400 runs in each of its last two games, against the West Indies and Ireland, winning each game by more than 200 runs.
Pakistan has had a shaky start in the World Cup. After losing its first two games against India and the West Indies, the 1992 champions picked up four points with wins over Zimbabwe and the United Arab Emirates.
Misbah rejected the idea that Pakistan's top-order batsmen, none of whom have career strike rates above 80, need to be more aggressive. He said the team has often lost early wickets and those batsmen have been required to rebuild the innings.
A strong bowling attack, he said, ensured that if Pakistan scored more than 250 runs it could put pressure on any opponent. “We have our targets and we play according to our strengths,” he said.
“The kind of start we had in the last game, if we can really repeat it against the top sides, we could really manage to score 300.”
Misbah-ul-Haq also hit back at criticism from ex-players who advised him to think out of the box, asking should hapless tailender Mohammad Irfan be sent in as a World Cup opener?
Pakistan's top order has flopped in the last four games with opening stands of 11, 0, 1 and 10 which put enormous pressure on the middle-order.
Pakistan tried veteran Younis Khan as opener in the first match against India after regular starter Mohammad Hafeez withdrew from the tournament following a calf injury just a week before the start of the World Cup.
But that didn't work.
Recalled opener Nasir Jamshed, who replaced Hafeez in the squad, fell for nought, one and four in his three innings, leaving Pakistan to consider using wicket-keeper/batsman Sarfraz Ahmed as opener in Saturday's crucial match against South Africa in Auckland.
When asked what he thinks of former captains, Javed Miandad and Ramiz Raja's advice of thinking out of the box, Misbah quipped: “Out of the box? Should we open with Irfan?”
Irfan, the 7-foot fast bowler, is a 'bunny' with the bat, scoring just 43 runs in the 44 one-day matches he has played.
Misbah said that Sarfraz Ahmed is being considered as an opener.
“He (Ahmed) has opened the innings in the United Arab Emirates,” said Misbah of last year's one-day series with Australia and New Zealand.
“But here the conditions are different.”
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