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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 21 May 2024

World Cup 2023: South Africa defeat Pakistan in a thriller to move top of points table

Heat is very much on Babar Azam now, especially as he once again perished to a loose shot after completing a half-century

Our Bureau Calcutta Published 28.10.23, 06:34 AM
South Africa’s Aiden Markram during his 91-run knock against Pakistan at the Chepauk on Friday.

South Africa’s Aiden Markram during his 91-run knock against Pakistan at the Chepauk on Friday. PTI picture

If Pakistan are a symbol of unpredicatability, then the Proteas can take their tendency to panic to the next level. Friday’s clash at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai had a fair share of both.

In spite of their panic-stricken nature, the South Africans prevailed with a one-wicket win to move atop the points table while Pakistan’s situation worsened in this World Cup.

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The heat is very much on Babar Azam now, especially as he once again perished to a loose shot after completing a half-century. If Pakistan don’t win against Bangladesh at Eden Gardens on Tuesday, their semi-final hopes will be as good as dashed.

The Pakistanis, opting to bat first, were again losing the plot with the fall of wickets in the middle overs before Saud Shakeel (52) and Shadab Khan (43)’s fightback helped the team total to 270.

Quinton de Kock didn’t score much, but thanks to Aiden Markram (91), South Africa were cruising at 250/6 in the 41st over. Thanks to leg-spinner Usama Mir and pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi, Pakistan were back in the contest with a bang as they got rid of Markram and Gerald Coetzee, respectively, in back-to-back overs.

Pakistan certainly fancied their chances of winning then as they had another 20 runs to defend while South Africa had only two wickets in hand. But the required run rate was still very much in the Proteas’ favour.

Enough balls at their disposal to get those remaining runs allowed South Africa’s tail to wag as they could afford just ones and twos. Keshav Maharaj and Lungi Ngidi made sure they did just that.

Haris Rauf’s superb catch off his own bowling thereafter to dismiss Ngidi again raised Pakistan’s hope for victory. But there were still enough balls left for Maharaj and No.11 Tabraiz Shamsi — adjudged Man of the Match for his 4/60 — to take their team home before the former placed one for a boundary that got South Africa through with 16 balls to spare.

In the end, it boils down to Pakistan’s inability to play the full 50 overs. Had they lasted their full quota of overs and scored at least another 15-20 runs, the pressure on the Proteas would have been doubled.

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