South African captain AB de Villiers hit an unbeaten 95 to guide his side to a series-clinching six-wicket win in the fifth and final One-Day International against Pakistan at Willowmoore Park yesterday.
De Villiers, who was dropped on one, overcame some hostile bowling on an unpredictable pitch as South Africa chased down Pakistan’s 204 all out with six overs to spare.
On a day when most batsmen struggled to time the ball consistently, De Villiers made his runs off just 111 balls. He hit nine fours and a six.
A fourth wicket partnership of 87 off 88 balls with Farhaan Behardien (35) made South Africa’s victory virtually certain after Pakistan’s new ball bowlers, Mohammad Irfan and Junaid Khan, caused early problems on a pitch where some deliveries bounced alarmingly, while others kept low.
De Villliers, who won both the man of the match and man of the series awards, lauded his team’s efforts throughout the series.
“It was a great team effort,” he said. “It was a pleasure playing here in Benoni, and it was a great series and well-played by Pakistan team too.
“It is always easy turning back to Dale [Steyn], but the whole bowling unit got better and better. Ryan [McLaren] is one of those guys who just makes it happen. He got Misbah [ul Haq] and [Shahid] Afridi in one over and that was a big game changer.
“Pakistan are a world class team, they will surely climb the world rankings soon and good luck to them.”
Poor shot selection cost
Pakistan seemed headed for a more competitive total when they reached 151 for four in the 35th over after winning the toss.
McLaren took three wickets in 13 balls to swing the match in South Africa’s favour and the tourists never recovered after that.
Misbah rued poor shot selection and the team’s knack of losing wickets at crucial times during the match.
“I think it was a 250 pitch and it was gettable the way we started, but we lost wickets at crucial times and chose wrong shots,” he said. “South Africa played really well.”
He said fast-bowler Irfan was Pakistan’s biggest positive during the tour.
“Irfan bowled really well throughout the series and gave us all the crucial breakthroughs. He just needs to work on his fitness a bit.
“The team got some confidence during the series, we just need to play quality cricket and keep competing. We could have really enjoyed had we won this one, but it was still a good series.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 25th, 2013.
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