Pakistan kept their ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup hopes alive with victory over South Africa in front of a partisan crowd at Lord’s.
An inspired 89 from 59 balls from Haris Sohail, 69 from Babar Azam and scores of 44 each from openers Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman ensured Pakistan stayed alive in the tournament, and confirmed South Africa’s group stage exit.
The tournament returned to the Home of Cricket for the first time since 1999 and a fantastic atmosphere greeted both sets of players, who knew a victory was needed to keep their country’s chances of silverware alive.
Thanks to the exploits of Haris, who hit nine fours and three sixes in his knock, Pakistan reached 308 for 7 from their 50 overs. Lungi Ngidi struck three times at the end of Pakistan’s innings, but Imran Tahir was the pick of the bowlers for the Proteas, managing economy as well as penetration (removing the opening pair) to finish with figures of 2-41.
The total always looked a challenging one and South Africa’s cause wasn’t helped when they lost Hashim Amla cheaply in the second over. Skipper Faf du Plessis (63), Quinton de Kock (47) and Andile Phehlukwayo (46 not out) were the mainstays of the South African innings but their struggle to build partnerships saw the run rate get ever steeper, exacerbated by some accurate Pakistani bowling.
Figures of 3 for 46 from Wahab Riaz, 3 for 50 from Shadab Khan, as well as two wickets for Mohammad Amir kept South Africa at arm’s length and they were never really in the hunt, with the points going to Pakistan who sealed victory by 49 runs.
The matches in this tournament come thick and fast and the action returns to Lord’s on Tuesday when England and Australia meet in what looks set to be a mouth-watering battle, as the hosts look to recover from a shock defeat to Sri Lanka just as their old enemy appears to have struck form.