Hafeez, Imam power Pakistan to win against South Africa
Veteran Muhammad Hafeez and talented Imam ul Haq came good with the bat as Pakistan completed their victory against South Africa in the first one-day international (ODI) on Saturday.
South Africa won the toss and elected to bat. The hosts never really got going despite plenty of wickets in hand to increase the scoring rate.
Hashim Amla and Reeza Hendricks put on 82 for the first wicket before the latter top-edged a slog sweep of Shadab Khan and was caught by Hasan Ali at midwicket five short of his half-century.
Debutant Rassie van der Dussen fell short of a century.
Amla was almost the opposite, batting fluently at first before receding into his shell.
In reply, Pakistan chose a more aggressive approach. After absorbing pressure for the first two overs, they attacked Kagiso Rabada, Fakhar Zaman taking him for two consecutive boundaries and Imam-ul-Haq smoking a flat-batted shot over midwicket for six, a mark of his exceptional form. Two more boundaries followed in the next over, and Pakistan were away.
Duanne Olivier dismissed Zaman with a bouncer when the opener had made 25 to give South Africa hope, and though Pakistan rebuilt through Babar Azam and Imam, a sequence of eight overs without a boundary forced the former to play a rash shot and be bowled by the innocuous part-time off-spin of Reeza Hendricks.
In a way, the dismissal summed up the difference between the sides. While it lead to Babar’s wicket, his adventure showed that Pakistan weren’t willing to get bogged down, and were willing to try something unorthodox to up the rate. Imam-ul-Haq was another who fell attacking, selflessly attempting to smoke Olivier over cover even with a century in sight.
South Africa’s total wasn’t far below par however, and while Pakistan were ahead there was still work to be done.
Shoaib Malik and Sarfaraz Ahmed each fell in the space of seven balls to make the game interesting, but Mohammad Hafeez’s sparkling half-century kept the tourists’ noses in front, and his pair of boundaries in the 47th over effectively sealed the game as a contest. He finished 71 not out as Pakistan secured victory with five wickets and five balls in hand.