Cricket: Bowled over by brilliance

By Paul Lewis

Shahid Afridi AP
Shahid Afridi AP

Legspinner Shahid Afridi and paceman Mohammad Irfan shared six wickets as Pakistan thumped South Africa by 66 runs to level the series in the second day-night cricket match in Dubai.

Afridi took three for 26 and Irfan finished with three for 53 as Pakistan defended a low total of 209 to square the five-match series. South Africa pulled off a sensational one-run win in the first match in Sharjah on Wednesday.

The remaining matches will be played in Abu Dhabi (November 6 and 8) and in Sharjah (November 11). Saeed Ajmal (two for 15) also shared the bowling spoils as South Africa were bowled out for 143 in 40.4 overs, with Ryan McLaren top-scoring with 29 not out.

"It was a really good performance, especially after getting out for a low score, our bowlers did the job for us again," said Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul Haq.

South African captain AB de Villiers admitted his team's batting was a concern: "We have a few issues in the batting and it's up to us to turn it around.

I'm very disappointed. Pakistan were too good for us."

Misbah attacked with slow bowlers as early as the fifth over, introducing Mohammad Hafeez who dried up the runs after Colin Ingram fell for four in the second over of the innings. Ajmal accounted for Graeme Smith (14), who was bowled off his legs with South Africa on 43.

Six balls later Jean-Paul Duminy, who struck three boundaries in his 25, fell in paceman Mohammad Irfan's second spell, caught in the slips - but not before Duminy completed 3000 one-day runs in his 106th match.

Afridi struck with his first ball, trapping Faf du Plessis for 12 and in his next over he had dangerman De Villiers caught behind for 10, leaving South Africa reeling at five for 73.

It became six for 83 when Hafeez caught David Miller, who had made 11, in front of the wicket with a sharp delivery. McLaren and Wayne Parnell (21) put on 35 for the seventh wicket but it only delayed the inevitable as South Africa slumped to their second lowest total against Pakistan, behind the 101 they made in Sharjah in 2000.

In the Pakistan innings, Ahmed Shehzad was the mainstay with an 85-ball 58. Hafeez (26), Afridi (26) and skipper Misbah (25) failed to capitalise on good starts as McLaren (four for 34) and Morne Morkel (three for 38) ran through the innings in what seemed a hard-to-defend total of 209.

Shehzad steadied the innings during a 48-run second wicket partnership with Hafeez and another 60 for the third wicket with Misbah before McLaren derailed the innings with a double strike.

When he had made eight, Misbah completed 1000 one-day runs in 2013, becoming the third batsman to achieve the milestone after Australia's George Bailey and India's Virat Kohli. But Misbah perished in rather soft fashion, flicking McLaren straight into the hands of midwicket. He hit a boundary and a six off 44 balls.

Morkel exploited the Pakistan batsmen's weakness against short pitched deliveries when opening batsman Nasir Jamshed (1) top-edged a pull shot and Lowabo Tsotsobe took a brilliant two-handed diving catch at fine leg.

McLaren and Morkel also choked Pakistan's lower middle order in the batting power play and conceded only 12 runs in five overs for the key wickets of Umar Akmal (18) and Umar Amin (14).

Afridi tried to break the shackles late in the innings with a typically aggressive 26 off 20 balls that included two successive fours off Tsotsobe but offered a tame catch at mid-off off Morkel's low full toss.

- AFP, AP

- Herald on Sunday

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