Pakistan’s modest hopes of reaching the T20 World Cup semifinals were kept alive by a 33-run victory over South Africa in a rain-shortened Super 12 encounter on Thursday. South Africa became the first team to lose a Super 12 match this tournament. Despite being in a tight spot at 43-4 early in their innings, Pakistan managed to come back and post 185 for nine, much to the delight of the 30,000-strong audience at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Without the swift dismissals of Temba Bavuma and Aiden Markram, who had put up a promising third-wicket partnership of 49, South Africa could have been optimistic about their chances. After nine overs, the heavens opened up. South Africa was reduced to 69-4; an hour later, they tried again with a revised target of 142 from five more overs using the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern system. But they still fell far short at 108 for nine. Even after the setback, the Proteas are still in second place in Group 2 behind India.
PAK VS SA | Pakistan ends South Africa’s unbeaten streak, keeping hopes alive
They can guarantee one of the two semi-final spots with a win over the Netherlands in the final Super 12 match on Sunday. Pakistan must beat Bangladesh in the second match of Sunday’s doubleheader at Adelaide Oval. It is hoped that either the Dutch have pulled off an upset or Zimbabwe has shocked India in the final group match in Melbourne.
After losing their top three batters (Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, and Shan Masood) for low scores, Pakistan’s chances of making the semifinals looked hopeless. Mohammad Haris came into the team as an injury substitute for Fakhar Zaman and led his teammates with a scorching 28 off 11 balls, including two sixes and a four to start the innings. The innings were transformed by a partnership of 82 for the sixth wicket between Iftikhar (51 runs) and Shadab (52 runs off 22 balls), who followed his lead.
This came after a rain delay, some boundaries, and a flurry of wickets. Bavuma shrugged over the early loss of opening partner Quinton de Kock for a duck, while Azam’s wretched season continued with six runs, bringing his total to 14 from four innings for Pakistan. After scoring just 14 runs in his first three innings of the tournament, Bavuma scored 36 before getting caught behind Shadab’s first ball.
Afridi, Mohammad Wasim, and Naseem Shah, all seamers, successfully caged the South Africans following the rain break by chipping away at the wickets at a steady rate and bowling Markram for 20 two balls later.