Champions Trophy: Proteas stay afloat, push Pakistan to brink of elimination
Birmingham: Prolific batsman Hashim Amla (81) hit a splendid half-century before Ryan McLaren took four wickets as South Africa mauled Pakistan by 67 runs to keep themselves in the race for the Champions Trophy semifinals on Monday.
Pakistan bowlers did a fantastic job by restricting South Africa to 234 for nine, which was built around Hamla`s knock and small contributions from Faf du Plessis (28), skipper AB de Villiers (31) and JP Duminy (24).
Pakistani batsmen though could not compliment the good job done by their bowlers as they failed to apply themselves under challenging conditions.
Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (55) and opener Nasir Jamshed (42) were the only ones, who showed intent to resist the Proteas as Pakistan were all out for 167 in 45 overs.
It was second successive batting failure for Pakistan and this defeat has dented their chances to progress in the tournament as they next face arch-rivals India on Saturday.
Stroke-making was difficult since the Edgbaston wicket assisted pacers as well as spinners.
MacLaren emerged as the highest wicket-taker for South Africa with figures of 8-3-19-4 but it was young paceman Chris Morris (2/25) together with Lonwabo Tsotsobe (2/23) who build pressure and strangulated the Pakistan innings early on.
Such was the domination of bowlers that Pakistan scored just 36 runs in first 15 overs and lost Imran Farhat (2) and Mohammed Hafeez (7). Morris accounted for both as he bowled Farhat and foxed Hafeez with extra bounce to have him caught at square leg.
McLaren and part-timer JP Duminy (1/26) too bowled venomous spells to pile on the misery of the rivals. Immediately after the first drinks break, Duminy bowled Shoaib Malik, who played a defensive shot but the ball rolled back, hit the stumps and knocked over the bails.
Jamshed was fighting hard from one end even as Pakistan trudged to 75 for three in 25 overs.
Tsotsobe returned for another spell and removed Jamshed by having him caught in his follow through. McLaren played his part by dismissing Umar Amin (16) and Kamran Akmal (0) departed in quick succession.
Misbah had no option but to go all out and in the process became Tsotsobe`s second victim. That was the final nail in Pakistan`s coffin.
Earlier, despite Pakistan`s impressive bowling the South African batsmen did succeed in getting good starts. However, they were guilty of not converting those into big knocks.
Earlier, Plessis, de Villiers and Duminy (24) all got good starts but they could not bat for long.
Amla too gifted his wicket on a extravagant shot, a reverse sweep, as he was batting confidently and hardly looked like troubled by any bowler. His 81 came off 97 balls with nine shots to the fence.
Resultantly, South Africa did not have the kind of batsmen who could get some quick runs to give fillip to the innings towards the end.
Pakistani pacemen were not unplayable but they did extract good bounce off the pitch to trouble the Proteas.
Spinners Saeed Ajmal and Mahammed Hafeez too played a part in stifling the Proteas innings. They got just a wicket each but conceded just 42 and 38 runs respectively.
Shoaib Malik too bowled miserly, giving away just 27 runs in his six overs, and also got wicket of Ryan McLaren.
Amla, who has been scoring consistently for South Africa, was his usual composed self as he rotated the strike well and formed a good stand with Plessis after the side had lost opener Colin Ingram (20), who was trapped by Hafeez.
Amla and Plessis and added 69 runs for the second wicket.
As Mohammed Irfan (1/27) and Junaid Khan (1/45) were getting good bounce off the pitch and spinners too bowled impressively, Amla and Plessis were cautious in their approach. Amla later on started playing reverse sweep against Hafeez and Ajmal and got some runs.
However, luck deserted him on one occasion as he reverse swept Ajmal but could not keep the ball down and was caught by Hafeez in the third man region.
It happened about four overs after Irfan had scalped Plessis by having the batsman caught in cover region. Plessis went for a pull, misjudged the bounce and just managed an edge which flew to Shoaib Malik.
The Pakistanis then effected runs outs Duminy and De Villiers, exposing the tail of the Proteas to some quality bowling.