Proteas punish Pakistan
South Africa routed Pakistan for just 89 to complete a stunning fightback and book their place in the ICC Champions Trophy semi-finals.
Both sides entered their final group match in Mohali knowing victory would secure their last-four place, and Pakistan seemed destined to qualify after reducing South Africa to 42 for five.
But determined half-centuries from Mark Boucher and Justin Kemp helped South Africa reach a competitive 213 for eight, and their formidable pace attack then dismissed Pakistan cheaply to secure victory by 124 runs.
This display completed a staggering turnaround in fortunes for Graeme Smith’s side after they slumped to defeat by New Zealand in their opening match of the tournament and looked set to be heading out of the competition.
Smith looked to have made a serious error of judgment when he decided to bat first on a lively pitch after winning the toss, and his side lost two wickets in the opening over.
The captain himself fell to the second ball of the match, trapped leg before in his crease to seamer Umar Gul, and one ball later Herschelle Gibbs edged to slip.
Seamer Rao Iftikhar, given his opportunity following the withdrawal of Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif from the Pakistan squad for alleged doping offences, built on that start by removing opener Boeta Dippenaar and Jacques Kallis.
Yasir Arafat, surprisingly chosen ahead of Naved-ul-Hasan, also prised out AB de Villiers when he edged an outswinger behind, leaving South Africa deep in crisis.
Boucher delivered a typically belligerent response, pulling through mid-wicket at every opportunity but remaining watchful throughout his 69 off 98 balls.
Big-hitting all-rounder Justin Kemp kept Boucher company for 34 overs during a vital 131-run stand for the sixth wicket.
They were aided by the strange decision by Pakistan captain Younis Khan, leading the side in the absence of the banned Inzamam-ul-Haq, to rely on his spinners during the middle stage of the innings.
Instead of bringing back Gul and Rao, who had caused the early damage, Younis kept faith with the spinners and allowed South Africa to recover superbly.
Boucher’s resistance was broken as he tried to accelerate during the finale to the innings. He mis-timed an attempted pull of Abdul Razzaq with three overs remaining and was caught in the deep.
Kemp had been unusually patient in scoring 64 off 110 balls, hitting four fours and two sixes, but fell to the first ball of the final over when he drove Gul into the deep.
By then, South Africa had already reached a handy total, and their seam attack set about exploiting the conditions during Pakistan’s reply.
Under the lights, they reduced Pakistan to 42 for seven inside the first 13 overs.
Makhaya Ntini claimed five of the first six wickets to fall and finished with 5-21 after an outstanding six-over spell.
But Shaun Pollock was also highly effective from the other end and grabbed 2-20, including the crucial wickets of Mohammad Yousuf and hard-hitting Shahid Afridi to end Pakistan’s resistance.
Ntini had opener Mohammad Hafeez caught at slip in the second over and Imran Farhat allowed the pressure to get to him by holing out in the deep when determination and resolve were required.
Pollock built on that early success by bowling Yousuf with a delivery which nipped back, and Ntini tempted Younis into another ill-judged shot, caught in the deep trying to pull after he had driven the same bowler for four off the previous ball.
It was not until Smith made the curious move to take Ntini out of the attack that Pakistan were able to develop any kind of partnership, with Afridi and Arafat becoming the only two players to reach double figures.
In the end it was Charl Langeveldt who finished off the innings with three late wickets to ensure South Africa’s progress to a semi-final in Jaipur next week.