Proteas wilt as Pakistan claim ODI series win
JOHANNESBURG - Until the 47th over of Pakistan’s innings, Temba Bavuma had cleverly managed his inexperienced bowling attack.
Pakistan then scored 56 runs in the last three overs, and in that period, this match and series were lost.
Aiden Markram and Jon-Jon Smuts would not have arrived at SuperSport Park on Wednesday morning, believing they’d bowl overs 48 and 49 in the innings, but they, following on from a fine spell by Keshav Maharaj, had pulled South Africa back into the match late in Pakistan’s innings.
Markram conceded 13 runs in the 48th and Smuts then went for 25 in the penultimate over of the innings - conceding four sixes to Hasan Ali. Andile Phehlukwayo’s final over went for 18, and Pakistan had gone from a position where they were struggling to make 300, to one where Babar Azam could control the game when in the field later.
Had South Africa - who had seven changes to the starting team, with five players heading to the IPL - conceded half the runs they did in those last three overs, they’d have been chasing 293, something Bavuma, speaking at the toss, felt was manageable.
In one sense he Bavuma was tactically smart in the second half of Pakistan’s innings, but he’ll look back and think that maybe, those tasked with bowling at the ‘death’ should take responsibility for that role, even if they didn’t bowl as well as they should earlier.
Pakistan had built steadily initially, after being asked to bat, with Fakhar Zaman and Imam ul-Haq, sharing a stand of 112 runs for the first wicket. Neither dominated South Africa’s inexperienced attack, and in fact the hosts didn’t really take advantage of the conditions early, which aided swing.
They were all too inconsistent with line and length, and while Fakhar and Imam could have scored quicker they probably reckoned they’d have to do the bulk of the scoring given that Pakistan’s middle order has struggled in the series.
It was a good launchpad. And even when Imam was dismissed, Pakistan were well placed with Babar Azam joining Fakhar. Those two would add 95 for the second wicket, with Fakhar continuing his dominance following that fine century at the Wanderers. His innings off 104 balls included nine fours and three sixes.
⚠ RESULT | @TheRealPCB WIN BY 28 RUNS— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) April 7, 2021
Pakistan put in a solid all-round performance in the final #BetwayODISeries match to claim victory and the series 2-1#SAvPAK #SeeUsOnThePitch@betway pic.twitter.com/xIs6ndSLQC
It was Maharaj, who’s last ODI was against Australia in Potchefstroom last year, who changed the course of Pakistan’s innings. Where it had looked like a total of close to 370 was simple, Pakistan found themselves tied in knots, with Maharaj leading the way by picking up three wickets.
Bavuma deserves credit for quickly readjusting his gameplan. He recalled, Markram, who’d opened the bowling, gave Smuts some more overs and watched as Pakistan collapsed from 206/1 when Fakhar was dismissed to 257/6 in 10.3 overs.
Babar grew irritated with his teammates for failing to stick with him, and it wasn’t until Hasan, playing his first match in the series, arrived at the crease, that Pakistan regained the momentum. Babar scored 94 and was out off the last ball, by which time his side had recovered.
Nine of the last 10 overs in the innings were bowled by the spinners, a first for a South African side in an ODI and in retrospect maybe a couple too many.
South Africa kept up with the required rate thanks to fine innings of 70 by opener Janneman Malan, who timed the ball sweetly. But the lack of a hundred by anyone in the top order proved fatal. Malan and Bavuma - battling a left thigh injury - were dismissed in the 24th over by Mohammed Nawaz, which ultimately turned the course of the game Pakistan’s way.
Kyle Verreynne (62) and Andile Phehlukwayo (54) shared 111-run partnership for the sixth wicket to give the Proteas hope, but it proved insufficient.