Reeza Hendricks drives through the offside during his unbeaten knock of 83 off 90 balls against Pakistan on Friday night. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

CENTURION – Reeza Hendricks and Faf du Plessis spared the Proteas’ blushes with a well crafted century stand to secure a 13-run victory on the DLS Method on Friday night, giving them a 2-1 advantage in the five-match series with Pakistan following another catastrophic display in the field.

The pair added an unbeaten 108 runs for the third wicket as rain curtailed the third One-Day International at SuperSport Park on Friday night.

Pakistan will feel hard done by for they certainly set South Africa a stiff challenge by putting 317/6 on the board.

But Du Plessis and Hendricks batted aggressively in the hour’s play that was possible following a rain interruption in the 17th over of the home side’s chase.

South Africa had started well in pursuit of 318, with openers Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock sharing a partnership of 53 that saw them score at comfortably above five runs an over.

But when Amla was dismissed in the 10th over by Hasan Ali, Hendricks struggled to assert himself. The first break for rain came in the 17th over, by which stage De Kock had been run out for 33.

Clearly the message to Hendricks during that nearly hour-long break was to up the ante once play resumed, and he did just that, batting with far more intent.

He set the tone for the partnership, taking advantage of some loose offerings particularly from leg-spinner Shadab Khan.

In 16 overs before the final match-ending rain arrived, Hendricks and Du Plessis added 99 runs, ensuring any concerns that arose from the calculations stipulated by Messrs Duckworth, Lewis and Stern were put to bed.

Hendricks finished not out on 83 (90 balls, 8x4, 2x6) while Du Plessis was unbeaten on 40 (42 balls, 3x4, 1x6) as the Proteas worked their way to 187/2 in 33 overs.

The outcome helped mask a dreadful fielding display, which really should have cost the Proteas this match.

By the time Pakistan’s innings had finished, the five catches the hosts had dropped had assisted the tourists to the value of more than 200 runs.

Babar Azam was on nine when he was dropped by Andile Phehlukwayo, he went on to score 69, an extra 60.

Imam-ul-Haq was on 53 when he was dropped by Tabraiz Shamsi – a sitter at mid-off – and he went on to score 101. That’s an extra 48.

Mohammed Hafeez was on 10 when he was dropped at slip by Hashim Amla – he finished on 52, an extra 42.

Shoaib Malik was on two when David Miller dropped him off Shamsi, perhaps the most difficult of the missed chances, and went on to make 31 – an extra 29 runs.

Finally, Imad Wasim was on 21 when he was dropped at long-off by Reeza Hendricks, and he finished not out on 43, an extra 22 runs. In total, that’s 201 runs.

Normally you won’t win games of cricket when you’re donating that many runs to your opponents, so South Africa got out of jail here.

It’s not the first time the fielding has let them down this season.

There were the four dropped catches in the first hour of play on the third morning of the final Test at the Wanderers. There as here, it was Dale Steyn who bore the brunt of his teammates’ poor execution with two catches missed off his bowling.

It seemed unfair that the TV cameras decided to zoom in on Proteas fielding coach Justin Ontong as another catch was dropped.

It’s not his fault the players were so poor on Friday afternoon. Four of the chances should have been taken – only Miller’s had a degree of difficulty.

As a result, Pakistan were able to notch up a healthy total, with Imam-ul-Haq’s gritty fifth ODI century the stand-out performance for the visitors with the bat.

It clearly meant a lot as he celebrated wildly, leaping in the air and then conducting some extra histrionics directed at his critics – of whom there are apparently plenty in Pakistan.

Primarily it seems many back home feel he is only in the side because his legendary uncle Inzamam – who was in attendance here on Friday – is the chairman of selectors.

“My selection and all that stuff… I am a nephew of the chief selector. To all the people who criticised me over the year, the media and the people, I want to thank them. This has been possible because of them,” Imam told broadcaster SuperSport at the end of the Pakistan innings.

South Africa’s fielding mishaps meant the bowlers had to work harder at the ‘death’, with both Steyn, who bowled superbly once again (2/43 in 10 overs), and Kagiso Rabada (2/57 in 10 overs) keeping Pakistan within reach.

The fourth ODI will be played at the Wanderers on Sunday (10am start).

@shockerhess 


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