IMAGES from the ICC World Cup match between Pakistan and South Africa, in Chennai, on Friday.


Keshav Maharaj hit the winning runs as South Africa beat Pakistan by one wicket in a nail-biting finish in the ICC World Cup match in Chennai on Friday.

Chasing a below-par target of 271, South Africa were on course for an easy victory, but lost their way after Aiden Markram was dismissed for 91 in the 41st over, with the score 257 for 7.

Gerald Coetzee and Lungi Ngidi soon perished cheaply and it was left to Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi to take the Proteas home. The last pair put their heads down and got the team home for a memorable victory.

South Africa slipped from 206 for 4 to 260 for 9 before Maharaj kept his composure to hit the winning boundary in the 48th over.

South Africa, who won their fifth match, jumped to top of the standings with 10 points. They are ahead of India on net run-rate, while Pakistan suffered their fourth defeat in six matches. Their qualification for the semis looks quite difficult.

What looked like a straightforward chase, suddenly became the closest game of the tournament, all because of an inspired phase of high quality pace bowling by Shaheen Shah Afridi (3/45) and Haris Rauf (2/62).

However, Maharaj (7 not out) and Shamsi (4 not out) added the 11 most precious runs of their career to notch a special win in 47.2 overs.

“This is not just four most important runs that I have scored but perhaps the only four runs I have scored in the entire year,” a beaming Shamsi said, after accepting the ‘Player of the Match’ award for his match figures of 4 for 60.

Shamsi survived a close DRS appeal off Rauf’s delivery, courtesy the ‘Umpires’ Call’ and once the bowler was on his haunches along with ‘keeper Mohammed Rizwan, the writing was on the wall.

Left-arm spin of Mohammed Nawaz is an apology for slow bowling and Maharaj let a war cry after slapping it behind the vacant backward square leg for a boundary.

While Babar will feel short-changed, as one of the deliveries bowled by one of his pacers brushed Maharaj’s pads but was called wide, he can’t deny the fact that his team put up at least 40 runs less of what could have been a par score on good batting track.

Markram showed why he is rated so highly with a quality knock. He was the accumulator and aggressor in equal measure as he used the pace of Rauf and Mohammed Wasim Junior to score a lot of runs.

Save Markram, the other small but useful contributions came from David Miller, who hit 29 off 33 balls and Marco Jansen (20 off 14 balls).

Usama Mir (2/45), the concussion substitute did get a couple of wickets but bowled a lot of loose balls for Pakistan’s comfort.

Earlier, skipper Babar Azam and Saud Shakeel scored fifties as Pakistan were shot out for a below-par 270.

While Babar laboured to 50 off 65 deliveries, Shakeel scored a run-a-ball 52 before Pakistan faltered towards the end of their innings and were dismissed in 46.4 overs after opting to bat.

Left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, playing only his second game, shone with figures of 4 for 60, while Marco Jansen (3/43) was superb with the new ball and Gerald Coetzee took 2 for 42.

After a maiden over, Jansen accounted for both the openers — Abdullah Shafique (9) and Imam-ul-Haq (12) – and Pakistan were reduced to 38 for 2 in the seventh over.

It could have been three down for the Pakistan in the same over had Jansen held on to a caught and bowled chance for Mohammad Rizwan.

Rizwan started on an aggressive note, hitting a six off spinner Keshav Maharaj and constructing a 48-run partnership with Babar (50).

However, the lease of life that Jansen offered him did not last long, as in the 16th over speedster Coetzee sent him back to the pavilion after being caught behind, with the score reading 86 for 3.

While Coetzee continued to choke the scoring rate, Pakistan brought up their 100 in the 20th over.

The pair of Babar and Iftikhar Ahmed (21) added 43 for the fourth wicket before the latter became the fourth bater to be dismissed, holing out to Heinrich Klaasen off Shamsi in the 26th over.

Meanwhile, Babar brought up his 31st ODI half-century, but right after the landmark he fell prey to Shamsi in the 28th over after an attempted sweep saw the ball take the faintest of nicks and lodge into the gloves of Quinton de Kock.

Although initially given not out by the umpire, the Proteas opted for the review at the last moment and the decision went in their favour as Pakistan slumped to 141 for 5.

Saud Shakeel (52) and Shadab Khan (43) then joined hands and forged a much-needed partnership of 84 runs, bringing the innings back on track. Soon the team 200 was up by the 37th over but Pakistan couldn’t make use of the platform.

While Shadab mainly targeted Maharaj, it was Coetzee who got the better of him in the 40th after an attempted pull to mid-wicket saw him getting caught by Maharaj.

With ten more overs remaining, the Pakistani batters looked to go for shots to cross the 300-run mark.

It was a dream too far-fetched for the Green Shirts, as they lost Shakeel in the 43rd over, followed by Shaheen Afridi (2), and slipped to 259 for 8. Mohammad Nawaz (24) and Mohammad Wasim Jr (7) were the last to perish.

  • World Cup 2023

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