Pakistan beat South Africa to keep semi-final hopes alive | Crickit
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Pakistan beat South Africa to keep semi-final hopes alive

By, New Delhi
Nov 03, 2022 08:13 PM IST

Shadab Khan turned in a superb allround performance to help the struggling team get a big win.

Whenever there’s an ICC tournament, the cliche about Pakistan cricket’s mercurial ways is bandied about. Till the time that they endure results like they have in this tournament, that reputation is likely to stick. After losing to Zimbabwe to suffer one of the biggest upsets of the 2022 T20 World Cup in their second group game on October 27, they defeated South Africa — who had beaten India — by 33 runs via DLS method in Sydney on Thursday. Even accounting for the unpredictability of the T20 version, Pakistan dazzle and disappoint in equal measure far too frequently.

Shadab starred with both bat and ball. (Pakistan Cricket Twitter)
Shadab starred with both bat and ball. (Pakistan Cricket Twitter)

The win keeps Pakistan alive in the semi-final race, but they need two significant upsets in the final round of games to progress. While their last game is against Bangladesh, India face Zimbabwe and South Africa take on the Netherlands. As long as India and South Africa brush aside their opponents, the outcome of the Pakistan-Bangladesh game is irrelevant.

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That Pakistan still have an outside chance is down to a magnificent all-round performance from Shadab Khan. The 24-year-old smashed a 22-ball 52 and took 2/16 with his leg spin. Batter Iftikhar Ahmad also made a telling contribution with a 35-ball 51, helping the former champions post 185/9 after electing to bat. In response, South Africa were restricted to 108/9 in 14 overs in a rain-affected encounter.

Pakistan were staring down the barrel at 43/4 after 6.3 overs, but consecutive fifty-plus partnerships for the fifth and sixth wicket ensured they put up a challenging total. While Iftikhar and Mohammad Nawaz raised 52 runs for the fifth wicket in 33 deliveries, the game-changing stand was strung by Iftikhar and Shadab. In the space of 35 deliveries, the two right-handers added 82 runs to put the South African attack under serious pressure for the first time in the tournament.

Even though Pakistan lost their first four wickets cheaply, there were signs right from the outset of the surface favouring stroke-making. Coming in at No 3 after the fall of Mohammad Rizwan's wicket, Mohammad Haris made a promising start to his World Cup career with a cameo of 28 in 11 balls. He got off the mark with consecutive sixes off Kagiso Rabada, using his bottom hand to wallop a full delivery to midwicket before shuffling across his stumps to pull a short ball beyond the fine-leg boundary.

His downfall was brought about by Anrich Nortje, moving across his stumps and missing a quick, straight delivery to be trapped leg-before. With Babar Azam and Shan Masood falling to slower deliveries by Lungi Ngidi and Nortje shortly after, the Pakistanis seemed to be hurtling towards a defeat.

Iftikhar and Shadab, though, had other ideas. Coming together at 95/5 after 13 overs, the two batters decided to counterattack. Iftikhar threw the first punch, hitting Parnell straight down the ground for his first maximum. In the next over, it was Shadab’s turn to launch. He slog-swept left-arm wristspinner Tabraiz Shamshi for a four between long-on and deep midwicket before hitting an inside-out aerial drive over deep extra cover that went all the way. Whenever skipper Temba Bavuma has needed a wicket in this tournament, he has turned to his seamers and has never been disappointed. But they didn't quite know how to deal with the onslaught of Iftikhar and Shadab. Their back-of-a-length deliveries were treated with disdain, forcing them to alter their lengths and go fuller.

South Africa stuttered in their reply, losing Quinton de Kock (0) and Rilee Rossouw (7) within the first three overs. While Bavuma and Aiden Markram got a partnership going, Shadab’s twin strikes in the eighth over nipped their hopes in the bud.

Brief scores: Pakistan 185/9 in 20 overs (S Khan 52, I Ahmad 51; A Nortje 4/41). South Africa 108/9 in 14 overs (S Afridi 3/14, S Khan 2/16). Pakistan won by 33 runs via DLS method.

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