Pakistan: 308/7 (Sohail 89, Azam 69, Ngidi 3/64, Tahir 2/41)
Haris Sohail’s late blitz has put Pakistan in command in this pulsating World Cup clash against the Proteas at Lord’s on Sunday.
South Africa’s bowlers seemed to have a grip on proceedings midway through, but Sohail’s pyrotechnics ensured a solid start did not go to waste.
Pakistan smashed 91 runs in the final 10 overs at a rate of 9.1 runs to the over.
It was the fast bowlers, particularly, that suffered despite a greater attempt at getting the yorker in the block hole. Sohail was relentless on anything that was over-pitched, smashing the ball to all corners of the storied ground.
It seemed South Africa’s fielders, and especially the youngsters playing at Lord’s for the first time, were caught up in the electric atmosphere that the majority Pakistani supporters generated. Often their angles were out of sync with captain Faf du Plessis and the bowlers.
It certainly seemed like South Africa were frazzled out on the park, with only Imran Tahir looking like he was enjoying the occasion. Perhaps it has something to with facing his birth-country, and the desire to prove that he should have been selected all those years ago, but Tahir certainly was motivated.
This only increased after the television umpire ruled against a Tahir “catch” out on the square-leg boundary that certainly seemed legitimate. The veteran leg-spinner responded by orchestrating the opening breakthrough when Fakhar Zaman (44) fell to a premeditated reverse-sweep.
However, he he kept his best for a little later when the 40-year-old showed the athleticism of a teenager to claim a brilliant one-handed caught-and-bowled to send Imam-ul-Haq (44) back to the pavilion.
Tahir was in the midst of a brilliant spell, and should have had even greater reward when wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock spilled a regulation chance off Mohammed Hafeez.
Although the chance did not cost the Proteas a huge amount in terms of runs, with Hafeez (20) falling to Aiden Markram’s part-time spin a little while later, it was an opportunity missed to get at Pakistan’s middle-order.
Instead it allowed Babar Azam (69) and Sohail to come in and play freely instead of consolidating as the pair put on 82 runs for the fourth wicket. The remaining 10 overs was left for Sohail to enjoy himself with Imad Wasim (23) as Pakistan’s lower-order looked to push the game beyond the Proteas’ reach.