South Africa beat Pakistan by 5 wickets in the second one-day international (ODI) at Durban on Tuesday in a low-scoring affair to level the five-match ODI series at 1-1.
Set 204 to win, the Proteas rode on a 127-run partnership between Andile Phehlukwayo (69*) and Rassie van der Dussen (80*) for the sixth wicket to chase down the required runs in 42 overs.
Phehlukwayo – who had also taken four wickets in the first innings – was the more aggressive of the two, looking to rotate the strike regularly while not being afraid to go for the big shots when he could. By contrast, Van der Dussen was more defensive.
But while the partnership between Van der Dussen and Phehlukwayo helped take South Africa home, Pakistan pacer Shaheen Afridi made sure the home side had to work hard for the win after he ran through the Proteas’ top order.
Afridi got Hashim Amla to inside edge one onto the stumps in his first over of the game before removing Reeza Hendricks after getting him to edge one to Sarfraz Ahmed in his second over.
Afridi then struck for a third time when called on to bowl, this time getting opposition skipper Faf du Plessis caught behind.
David Miller then put together a 51-run stand with Van der Dussen that helped steady the ship but the home side were once again in trouble when Shadab Khan dismissed Miller and Heinrich Klaasen off successive deliveries.
Despite underwhelming with the bat in the first innings, Pakistan looked like they might have been able to take a 2-0 series lead before Phehlukwayo and Van der Dussen took the game away from them.
Put in to bat in the first innings after South Africa won the toss, Pakistan lost wickets at regular intervals and had to rely on a 90-run partnership for the ninth wicket between skipper Sarfraz and Hasan Ali to take them to a respectable total.
The visitors were struggling at 112/8 before Ali scored a counterattacking half-century and was ably supported by Ahmed, who made a patient 41.
Ali smashed 5 fours and 3 sixes during his stay at the crease, scoring at a strike rate of 131.11 and was the last man dismissed on the penultimate ball of the 46th over by Phehlukwayo.
Phehlukwayo, who ended the innings with figures of 4-22, had earlier broken the partnership when he castled Sarfraz with a ball that stayed slightly low.
Yet minimal contributions from the top order meant that Pakistan were faced with a daunting task to somehow pull off the victory, one that proved unachievable in the end.
Imam-ul-Haq was the first to depart having scored just five runs when he failed to properly play a Kagiso Rabada bouncer that was easily collected by Phehlukwayo at square leg.
Babar Azam also fell victim to a short ball Rabada before Phehlukwayo got Mohammad Hafeez to hole out to Faf du Plessis at short mid-wicket.
Fakhar Zaman had made a steady start to his innings but he too was dismissed courtesy of a short ball that fell straight into David Miller’s hands off Duanne Oliver’s bowling.
With the side already four down after the first drinks break, Shoaib Malik and Shadab Khan knew a major partnership was needed to salvage the match.
But the two only managed to stitch together a 27-run stand which ended when Shadab played a reckless shot off Tabraiz Shamsi, top-edging a simple catch to van der Dussen.
Shamsi and wicketkeeper Heinrich Klaasen would then combine to get rid of Hussain Talat. A flighted ball drew Talat forward and it spun away sharply. Klaasen was quick to dislodge the bails to hand Shamsi his second wicket of the day.
The key wicket of Malik was then snared by Phehlukwayo when the experienced batsman tried to slog a slower bouncer that Reeza Hendricks comfortably collected at deep square leg.
Shamsi then trapped Faheem Ashraf plumb in front of the wicket and it seemed like the hosts would have an easy day at the office before Ali’s lower-order fireworks helped Pakistan put a decent target on the board.
The third ODI will be played at Centurion on Friday (January 25).