Press Trust of india

South Africa all but pip Pakistan out of World Cup with narrow win

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Chennai: South Africa took the first giant step towards shedding the eternal chokers tag as they pushed Pakistan towards the World Cup exit door winning a humdinger of a contest by solitary wicket here on Friday.

This is South Africa’s first World Cup win against Pakistan since the 1999 edition while Babar Azam’s men’s fourth loss on trot is country’s first in global event. Pakistan are on four points from six games and even if they win all three games, there is less than five percent chance of them qualifying for the last four stage.

What looked like a straightforward chase of 271, suddenly became the closest game of the tournament as Proteas slumped from 235 for 5 to 260 for 9, thanks to an inspired phase of high-quality pace bowling by Shaheen Shah Afridi (3/45) and Haris Rauf (2/62).

However, Keshav Maharaj (7 not out) and Tabraiz Shamsi (4 not out) added the 11 most precious runs of their career to notch up a special win in 47.2 overs and also take the team to top of points table with 10 points.

“This is not just four most important runs that I have scored but perhaps the only four runs I have scored in the entire year,” a beaming Shamsi said after accepting the ‘Player of the Match’ award for his match figures of 4 for 60.

Maharaj survived a close DRS appeal off Rauf’s delivery, courtesy Umpires’ Call and once the bowler was on his haunches along with keeper Mohammed Rizwan, the writing was on the wall.

Left-arm spin of Mohammed Nawaz is an apology for slow bowling and Maharaj let a war cry after slapping it behind the vacant backward square leg for a boundary.

While Babar would feel short-changed as one of the deliveries bowled by one of his pacers brushed Keshav Maharaj’s pads but was called wide but he can’t deny that his team put up at least 40 runs less of what could have been a par score on good batting track.

His captaincy was also unimaginative as Aiden Markram (91 off 93 balls) showed why he is rated so highly with a quality knock.

Markram was both accumulator and aggressor in equal measure as he used the pace of Rauf and Mohammed Wasim Junior to score a lot of runs.

The inside out six of Iftikhar’s off-break was a treat while Quinton de Kock giving a rollicking start also helped. He hit Shaheen for four boundaries and it did set the tempo.

Save Markram, the other small but useful contributions came from David Miller, who hit 29 off 33 balls and Marco Jansen 920 off 14 balls), who always found a way top hit sixes to close in on the target.

Usama Mir (2/45), the concussion substitute did get a couple of wickets but bowled a lot of loose balls for Pakistan’s comfort.

Earlier, skipper Babar and Saud Shakeel struck fifties but Pakistan batters frittered away good starts to be bowled out for a below-par 270 after the losers decided to make first use of the strip.

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