A fine all round performance from Shadab Khan kept Pakistan’s slim hopes of semi-final qualification alive as they beat South Africa in front of a 30,351 strong crowd at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The Islamabad United star smashed a quickfire 52 (22) with the bat and added 82 in 6 overs with Iftikhar Ahmed after Pakistan had been reduced to 95/5 in 13 overs.
Shadab’s first over with the ball also saw him pick up Temba Bavuma and Aiden Markram, and that double wicket over was crucial as it came just before rain interrupted play. The two wickets saw South Africa fall way behind on DLS, and when it resumed, they were left needing 73 off the last five, an almost impossible task given that four of them were to be bowled by the Pakistani quicks.
Earlier, Pakistan won the toss and decided to bat, but again lost Mohammad Rizwan cheaply. Muhammad Haris, only playing because the injured Fakhar Zaman had been ruled out of the tournament, however gave the innings some much needed impetus as he hit 28 in just 11 balls. Haris was particularly severe on Kagiso Rabada, hitting the latter for two sixes and a four in the same over. Anrich Nortje however trapped him in front, and the wickets of Babar and Shan Masood followed immediately after, leaving Pakistan at 43/4.
South Africa had however left out Keshav Maharaj to include Tabraiz Shamsi, and Pakistan slowly started to wrest control back in the period that the spinner and Rabada were bowling. Mohammad Nawaz looked good in his 22 ball 28, but was LBW to Shamsi- there was an obvious inside edge but he chose not to take the review as Ngidi had run him out anyway.
Shadab and Iftikhar’s heroics, coupled with South Africa’s bowlers losing their lengths, propelled Pakistan to 185/9, a competitive score on a good SCG track.
Shaheen Shah Afridi started well with the ball, going for just 2 runs in his first 2 overs and also accounting for Quinton de Kock and Rilee Rossouw. Temba Bavuma and Aiden Markram though kept pace with the asking rate before both were dismissed in that Shadab over before the rain come. Tristan Stubbs and Heinrich Klaasen tried their best at the end, but it was too much of an ask for a South African side that really doesn’t have power hitting down the order, and they fell short by 33 runs.
The 30,351 crowd was slightly lower than the 36,426 in attendance at the same venue for India against the Netherlands, but this game was on a weekday (that was on a weekend)