| Shoaib Malik en route to his 41-ball 82 in Lahore on Friday. (AFP)
Lahore: Express bowler Shoaib Akhtar claimed four wickets for 49 runs on Friday to help Pakistan clinch a thrilling eight-run win over South Africa in the first ODI at Gaddaffi Stadium.
Akhtar’s brilliance overshadowed Boeta Dippenaar’s maiden ODI hundred (110 not out) as South Africa stopped at 269 for six off 50 overs in reply to Pakistan’s 277 for six. The Pakistan total was made possible by Shoaib Malik’s unbeaten 82, which came off a mere 41 balls.
Dippenaar gave South Africa a glimmer of hope with his team needing 27 off the last two overs. He took 14 runs off Akhtar’s tenth and final over and brought up his century with a straight four. However, his 131-ball effort was not enough to see his side through as Mohammed Sami conceded just four off the last over of the innings. Dippenaar’s innings included seven fours and two sixes.
Graeme Smith and Dippenaar had laid a solid foundation in the chase with a 138-run opening wicket stand in 166 balls. Smith developed cramps in his left leg during his innings off 71 off 99 balls and batted with a runner.
Akhtar returned for his second spell and removed Smith and Jacques Kallis in quick succession. Smith was cramped for space and was caught low by captain Inzamam-ul Haq while Kallis played on Akhtar’s fast delivery.
Neil McKenzie and Dippenaar then put on 101 runs off 108 balls for the third wicket but were seemingly supported by the Pakistani fielders. Off-spinning allrounder Malik should have got rid off McKenzie — on 13 and 25. However, Abdul Razzaq first dropped him at mid-off and then Inzamam misjudged a skier.
Akhtar returned for his last three-over burst and claimed two wickets in his eighth over. He deceived McKenzie (62 off 62 balls) with a slower delivery and then uprooted Mark Boucher’s leg stump with a vicious yorker.
Earlier, Malik entertained a peaceful crowd of around 22,000 with an explosive half-century as Pakistan posted 277 for six. The 21-year-old hit a whirlwind unbeaten 82 off 41 balls and accelerated Pakistan’s innings in the last ten overs as the home team plundered 105 runs.
Shaun Pollock, who gave away just 25 in his first nine overs, conceded 21 in the 49th as Malik hit him for two sixes and two boundaries. Kallis got the same treatment in the last over of the innings as Malik lofted him for three successive sixes, giving Pakistan a strong total to defend. Malik stepped up the pace with Inzamam (37), combining in a 64-run fifth wicket partnership off 52 balls. (AFP)