PORT ELIZABETH – Mohammad Hafeez's 63-ball 71 helped Pakistan finish off their chase of 267 in the first One-Day International against South Africa in Port Elizabeth on Saturday and take a 1-0 lead in the series.
Hafeez, who was also adjudged Player of the Match, said after the game that South Africa's 266/2 in 50 overs was below par even as Hashim Amla cracked a 100 and Rassie van der Dussen scored 93 on debut.
"It's a team effort," Hafeez said. "It was not a par score on this track, so we were confident chasing it. To be very honest, we were very sure as a team we should chase this one. The start given by Fakhar and Imam(-ul-Haq) was brilliant, Babar (Azam) gave us momentum.”
Opener Imam-ul-Haq (86) and No 3 Azam (49) laid a platform for Hafeez to capitalise on, which they did successfully.
With this win, Pakistan maintained their unbeaten record at St. George's Park. They have now won three out of the four matches they have played at the venue, with one match ending without result.
Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed also credited his batsmen for their first win of the tour. "The batting was very responsible," Ahmed said. "In the middle overs, Shadab (Khan) was great, as well as Imad (Wasim). And the way our fast bowlers bowled was very good.”
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis also felt that his team were short of where they should have been. "The two guys (Amla and van der Dussen) batted really well, but perhaps there were 10 or 15 runs that we could have pushed a little harder for," he said.
Shadab (1/41) and Hasan Ali (1/42) bowled well in the middle overs and did not allow the well-set South African batsmen to accelerate. "Pakistan bowled better than us over 50 overs today," Du Plessis said.
"Pakistan batted really well [too], you have to give credit where it's due. Some great learnings for us, and we know where we can get better.
"An in-form Hashim Amla is great for us. Rassie played beautifully, he had intent right through his innings. We need to adapt. You're not going to always get conditions for the fast bowlers.”
The second ODI of the five-match series will be played on Tuesday, at Kingsmead, Durban.
African News Agency (ANA)