AUCKLAND: Pakistan clinched a thrilling 29-run win over South Africa at the World Cup on Saturday to put themselves on course for the quarter-finals, while Ireland were also in sight of a last-eight place.
Chasing just 232 to win under the Duckworth-Lewis method at Eden Park in Auckland, South Africa, who would have been assured of a quarter-final slot had they won, were bowled out for 202 despite captain AB de Villiers’ valiant 77.
Rahat Ali grabbed a career-best three for 40, with fellow left-arm seamers Mohammad Irfan (three for 52) and Wahab Riaz (three for 45) as South Africa were dismissed in 33.3 overs in a game which ended in a torrential downpour.
The result left South Africa and Pakistan both on six points and well-placed for the quarter-finals.
Non-Test playing Ireland were set also to move to six points after they piled up 331 for eight against Zimbabwe in Hobart, a result which would leave the West Indies’ hopes of making the next round on a knife-edge.
Pakistan had suffered a trademark batting collapse following two rain-breaks in Auckland and were dismissed for just 222, having been 92 for one and 156 for three.
The match was twice held up for rain and the second stoppage did little for Pakistan’s fragile confidence as they lost five wickets for the addition of just 25 runs.
Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq top scored with 56 off 86 balls — his fourth half-century in five matches at this World Cup and the 42nd of his career — as the 40-year-old went past 5,000 one-day international runs, although he still awaits a first century.
Shahid Afridi added a brisk 22, passing 8,000 ODI runs but Pakistan were left kicking themselves after squandering an impressive start which had seen Sarfraz Ahmed mark his first game of the tournament with 49 before he was run out and veteran Younis Khan hit 37.
Sarfraz later claimed a record-equalling six catches behind the stumps and was named man-of-the-match.
“I am very thankful to the world and Pakistan for this opportunity,” said Sarfraz who replaced Nasir Jamshed at the top of the order.
“This is my World Cup debut, but Mushtaq Ahmed (one of the team’s coaching staff) encouraged me and told me to go out and enjoy myself.”
Fast bowler Dale Steyn led a disciplined South Africa bowling performance with three for 30 and also held a brilliant, flying catch to get rid of Ahmed Shehzad.
Fellow seamer Kyle Abbott took two for 45 despite being expected to be dropped to accommodate a returning Vernon Philander.
When they batted, South Africa lost out-of-form opener Quinton de Kock for a second ball duck which followed scores of 7, 7, 12 and 1.
But Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis comfortably put on 67 for the second wicket before Pakistan sensationally lived up to South Africa coach Russell Domingo’s pre-match assessment of the 1992 champions’ “predictable unpredictability”.
South Africa conclude their pool programme against the UAE in Wellington on Thursday, while Pakistan face Ireland in Adelaide next Sunday, the same day that the West Indies play the UAE in Napier.
India’s four-wicket win against the West Indies in Perth on Friday kept the defending champions top of Pool B with eight points from four victories in four matches and assured them of one of the quarter-final places.
Also in Pool B, Ireland were on course for victory over Zimbabwe in Hobart.
Ireland veteran Ed Joyce made Zimbabwe pay for dropping him early in his innings with a hundred while Andrew Balbirnie struck a quickfire 97 as the non-Test side piled up 331 for eight at the Bellerive Oval.
Left-hander Joyce’s 112, his third one-day international hundred in 49 matches, was the cornerstone of Ireland’s total and he put on 138 for the third wicket with Balbirnie.
The only sadness for Ireland came when Balbirnie, deprived of the strike late in his innings, was run out three runs shy of what would have been a maiden ODI hundred in the final over. AFP