PORT ELIZABETH: Mohammad Hafeez and Imam-ul-Haq set up a five-wicket win for Pakistan in the first one-day international against South Africa at St George’s Park on Saturday.
The left-handed Imam made a cultured 86 off 101 balls and Hafeez hit an unbeaten 71 off 63 deliveries as Pakistan chased down a target of 267 with five balls to spare.
Hashim Amla’s 27th one-day international century was not enough for South Africa, who lost only two wickets in scoring 266 runs after winning the toss.
Pakistan’s bowlers deserved credit for their team’s win, which came after the tourists were beaten in all three Test matches.
Captain Sarfraz Ahmed used his bowlers in short spells and their mixture of seam and spin proved better suited to a slow pitch than South Africa’s attack.
South African strike bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Duanne Olivier conceded a total of 124 runs in 19.1 overs.
The Pakistan batsmen also proved better at rotating the strike, particularly during a 94-run second-wicket stand between Imam and Babar Azam (49).
Amla (108 not out) and new cap Hendrick ‘Rassie’ van der Dussen (93) put on 155 for South Africa’s second wicket but although they gradually increased the tempo of their partnership they were unable to dominate the bowling.
Man of the match Hafeez said after his unbeaten innings: “We were confident because we knew 266 was not a par score on this track. The first win of the series is very important.”
He said an aggressive opening stand of 45 off 50 balls by Imam and Fakhar Zaman gave Pakistan momentum, which was continued during the partnership between Imam and Azam.
Seamer Hasan Ali and leg-spinner Shadab Khan were the best Pakistan bowlers and the only two who bowled their full quota of ten overs, taking one for 42 and one for 41 respectively.
Pakistan looked to be cruising to an easy win until Imam was dismissed in the 37th over when he stepped out of his crease and sliced an attempted drive to deep cover.
Two more wickets fell cheaply before Hafeez and Shadab saw their side home, maintaining an unbeaten record for Pakistan in five one-day matches in Port Elizabeth, four of them against South Africa.
Hashim Amla not out 108
R. Hendricks c Hasan Ali b Shadab 45
H. van der Dussen c Shoaib b H. Ali 93
D. Miller not out 16
EXTRAS: (lb3, w1) 4
TOTAL: (2 wkts, 50 overs) 266
BOWLING: Faheem Ashraf 10-0-64-0, Usman Shinwari 8-0-49-0, Imad Wasim 7-0-37-0 (w1), Mohammad Hafeez 3-0-22-0, Hasan Ali 10-2-42-1, Shadab Khan 10-0-41-1, Fakhar Zaman 2-0-8-0
Imam-ul-Haq c Hendricks b Olivier 86
F. Zaman c Pretorius b Olivier 25
Babar Azam b Hendricks 49
Mohammad Hafeez not out 71
Shoaib Malik b Phehlukwayo 12
Sarfraz Ahmed lbw b Imran Tahir 1
Shadab Khan not out 18
EXTRAS: (lb1, w4) 5
TOTAL: (5 wkts, 49.1 overs) 267
BOWLING: Rabada 9.1-1-51-0, Olivier 10-0-73-2 (2w), Pretorius 10-0-42-0, Phehlukwayo 7-0-43-1 (2w), Imran Tahir 10-0-44-1, Hendricks 3-0-13-1
UMPIRES: Gregory Brathwaite (WIN), Allahudien Paleker (RSA)
TV UMPIRE: Paul Reiffel (AUS)
MATCH REFEREE: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI).
Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2019