SA level series with five-wicket win over Pakistan

SA captain Faf du Plessis (L) congratulates all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo after taking a wicket during the second of the five-match ODI series against Pakistan at Kingsmead Stadium in Durban on January 22 2019.
SA captain Faf du Plessis (L) congratulates all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo after taking a wicket during the second of the five-match ODI series against Pakistan at Kingsmead Stadium in Durban on January 22 2019.
Image: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

In the end, South Africa's five wicket win against Pakistan in the second ODI at Kingsmead looked comfortable and indeed was.

However, it was anything but that.

Chasing 204 should be easy but when SA were reduced to 80/5, it looked like Pakistan would collect another win at one of their favourite grounds.

Rassie van der Dussen (80*) and Andile Phehlukwayo (69*) would have none of it though.

Their cool, calm and collected Kingsmead record sixth-wicket unbeaten stand of 127 kept the hosts alive in the five-match series.

After all, they'd Pakistan back in the game to score 203 in 45.5 overs after they had them pinned down 112/8 after 32 overs.

When Hashim Amla (eight) punched two boundaries off two Shaheen Afridi (3/44) deliveries, it looked like hosts would have the measure of a modest chase.

The 18-year-old left-arm seamer though had the last laugh with a wicked inswinger that disturb Amla's stumps.

That Amla wicket saw Afridi go on a spell where he took a wicket in each of his first three overs.

In his next over, he had Reeza Hendricks (five) chasing a wide one into Sarfraz Ahmed's gloves and in Afridi's next over, captain Faf du Plessis (eight)fell to the Afridi/Ahmed combination.

South Africa were 29/3 after six overs and in danger of bottling the chase but the threat posed by Afridi was unique.

While South Africa bowled well, Afridi was the only bowler who got the ball to move in the air.

It was a challenge that was too great for the others but not for Van der Dussen and David Miller (31).

The pair staged an admirable repair job with a fourth-wicket stand of 51 of 53 balls.

Shadab Khan's (2/46) first over ended Miller's budding innings when he coaxed the southpaw into a chip that was well caught by Imam-ul-Haq at short mid-wicket.

Heinrich Klaasen was out very next ball when he misread a Khan googly and 80/3 suddenly became 80/5.

Van der Dussen batted with a maturity of a seasoned veteran and with the level-headed Phehlukwayo, they weathered an excellent bowling storm.

Their steady stand drew the sting from Pakistan's bowling but their bowling also gave them a chance. Van der Dussen collected a second successive 50 off 81 balls while Phehlukwayo's came off just 54 deliveries. They displayed the necessary patience that took a difficult surface out of the equation.

The variable nature of South Africa's international coastal surfaces again came to the fore as Pakistan struggled to adapted to a two-paced and slow pitch.

Chasing the series after the deflating first ODI loss in Port Elizabeth, Du Plessis won the toss and gave Pakistan first use of the pitch.

While there was the general slowness that's part and parcel of latter-day Kingsmead surfaces, the spongy bounce hasn't disappeared. It accounted for the top three of Imam (five), Fakhar Zaman (26) and Babar Azam (12).

Imam and Babar were snared by two different Kagiso Rabada (2/35) bouncers that were caught by Andile Phehlukwayo (4/22) at varying square-leg positions.

Imam was beaten for pace by a surprise steepler while Babar was deceived by a lack of pace on a slower bumper.

Zaman reined in his attacking instincts but was defeated by a Duanne Olivier (1/51) bouncer that not only cramped him for room, but could only fend the fierce delivery to David Miller at gully. Mohammad Hafeez (nine) was snared in a well-set short mid-wicket trap by Du Plessis off Phehlukwayo as the third and fourth wickets fell on 58.

Khan (18) and Hussain Talat (two) tried to inch the score along to 100 but they fell to Tabraiz Shamsi (3/56) within four overs of each other to leave Pakistan tottering at 92/6 at the halfway mark.

The most disappointing dismissal was that of veteran Shoaib Malik (21).

Tasked with rebuilding the innings, Malik showed sound sense and reasonable cricketing judgement but these qualities went missing when he picked out Hendricks at deep square-leg off Phehlukwayo.

Faheem Ashraf (0) didn't bother the scorers much and at 112/8 in the 32nd over, Pakistan looked down and out.

However, nothing gets Pakistan going like a hopeless situation and through Hasan Ali and captain Ahmed, they dug themselves out of a hole.

Their 90-run ninth-wicket partnership in 73 balls was exhilarating.

Ali collared every bowler who came his way and cantered to a 37-ball 50 with three fours and three sixes.

Ahmed's 59-ball 41 was full of common sense and strike rotation but when he was bowled by Phehlukwayo, the innings' momentum went with him.

Ali was gone four balls later but they gave Pakistan something to defend. Van der Dussen and man-of-the-match Phehlukwayo had other ideas.

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