JOHANNESBURG: Having narrowly lost the first One-day International in Centurion, South Africa will be looking to bounce back against the high-flying Pakistan side in the second match here at the Wanderers on Sunday.
Pakistan came off better after a thriller of a first ODI, which went down to the last ball of the match at the SuperSport Park on Friday. Rassie van der Dussen’s maiden century — 123 — in all formats for South Africa went in vain as the 171-run second-wicket partnership between Pakistan captain Babar Azam and opener Imam-ul-Haq helped Pakistan go 1-0 up in the series.
That meant South Africa now face a do-or-die encounter when the teams clash again. Given the fact that South Africa will also be without five of their star players — Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, David Miller, and Quinton de Kock all have been granted permission to link up their respective franchise ahead of IPL 2021 —they have their task cut out.
Pakistan will be confident with Babar looking in splendid touch during his match-winning 103 in the first fixture of the three-match series, a milestone that made him the fastest to 13 ODI centuries.
Moreover, Pakistan’s bowlers, who got off to a terrific start in the opening clash, will look to build on that start.
After being asked to bat, South Africa’s top order collapsed, and the hosts were reduced to 55-4. Van der Dussen and David Miller’s partnership of 116 helped revive the innings, with Van der Dussen going on to score an unbeaten 123 to boost South Africa’s total to 273-6.
Pakistan responded well, despite the early loss of Fakhar Zaman, with Imam and Babar anchoring the chase. While Babar went to score another ton, Imam contributed an invaluable 70. A slide thereafter meant South Africa were back in the game, but Mohammad Rizwan and Shadab Khan’s partnership of 53 helped them cross the line.
Speaking during the post-match ceremony, Babar admitted Pakistan getting jittery when wickets to fall after his departure as fast bowler Anrich Nortje ripped out four batsmen in his final spell.
“To be honest, when the wickets fell I was nervous, and the pressure was on with that Nortje spell. He bowled extremely well. Hopefully, we will learn from our mistakes. We need to take the confidence from this win into the next game and hopefully close the series.”
Temba Bavuma, who replaced de Kock as South Africa’s captain until the 2-23 World Cup in India expressed his disappointment at the result but expected his side to bounce back in the coming two matches.
“It was certainly not the result we were looking for, but a good game of cricket. We were tested in all departments and tested to our limits. A good start to the series, but we have areas to improve in.”
The final game is in Centurion on Wednesday before the two sides meet in a four-match Twenty20 International series between April 10 and 16.
Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2021