World Cup 2019: Pakistan knock South Africa out of semi-final race
Sarfaraz Ahmed & Co regroup at iconic venue to thrash SA by 49 runs
London: Facing the backlash of their legion of fans after losing to India in their previous game, it was imperative for Pakistan to strike back. And that is what they did against South Africa at Lord's in a high-scoring game, that brought the smiles back on the faces of their supporters and also kept their hopes, however slender, alive of a berth in the semi-finals.
Riding on Haris Sohail's superb innings of 89 off just 59 balls, Pakistan ran up a total of 308-7, which the struggling South African team found too tough to overhaul and fell short by 49 runs.
Despite dropping five clear catches, it was a much-improved performance from the Pakistan team as their batsmen played aggressively and the bowlers bowled with a lot of purpose and zeal. That's the type of cricket they are capable of playing and that's what they showed the cheering fans, who had packed the stands at the Mecca of cricket. That's the type of fearless cricket their former star cricketers had advocated while facing India at Manchester.
A panoramic view of the Lord's Cricket Ground during the South Africa v Pakistan match in London yesterday. Pic/Bipin Patel
Though that performance has come a match late, it has kept their World Cup hopes going. Wining their second game in six matches and with one washout, Pakistan have moved to the sixth spot with five points. They will need to win their last three games and then hope that the results of other matches go in their favour to make an unlikely entry into the last-four.
Yesterday, after opting to bat first on a flat track, the entire top-order contributed for Pakistan, with openers Imam ul Haq and Fakhar Zaman scoring 44 runs each, while Babar Azam collected a cool 69. But the innings of the day came from the blade of Sohail, who was surprisingly not played against India, at the expense of Shoaib Malik. Sohail's 89 with nine fours and three sixes, helped Pakistan take the total beyond the 300-mark, putting the struggling South African batsmen under pressure.
South Africa's hopes were alive when Quniton de Kock and Faf du Plessis were batting confidently, taking the score close to the hundred mark. But Shadab Khan provided a twist by getting rid of de Kock and Mark Markram in quick succession. And when Mohammed Amir got rid of Du Plessis, the writing was on the wall. Though the South African batsmen kept fighting till the end, they could not avoid their fifth defeat in seven games, putting an end to even a mathematical possibility of qualifying for the knockouts.
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