CHENNAI: South African batters managed to hold onto their nerves as they edged spirited Pakistan by one wicket in the 26th match of the ongoing ICC World Cup 2023.
Set to chase 271, South Africa’s number nine Keshav Maharaj scored the winning boundary off Mohammad Nawaz on the second delivery of the 48th over.
South African openers Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma gave their side a brisk start by scoring 30 runs in the first two overs.
Ace pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi spoiled South Africa’s flying start as he got rid of in-form de Kock in the fourth over. The left-handed opener scored a 14-ball 24, hitting five boundaries.
Aiden Markram then joined Bavuma in the middle and the pair shared a 33-run stand before the Proteas captain perished in the 10th over, scoring a 27-ball 28.
Markram was then joined by Rassie van der Dussen in the middle and the duo stitched an anchoring 54-run partnership before Usama Mir – Shadab Khan’s concussion replacement – trapped the latter lbw on 21.
South Africa then sustained a major blow to their pursuit as in-form Heinrich Klaasen (12) perished cheaply in the second over, causing South Africa to slip to 136/4.
Coming out to bat at number six, David Miller joined forces with Markram to put together a 70-run stand which lasted when Shaheen Afridi got the former caught behind in the 34th over.
He remained a notable contributor for South Africa with a 33-ball 29.
Markram was then involved in another crucial partnership when he, alongside, Marco Jansen added 29 runs to the total for the sixth wicket before Jansen fell victim to Haris Rauf after a brisk 20-run cameo.
South Africa’s mainstay Aiden Markram then finally perished in the 41st over with the scoreboard reading 250.
He looked to heave Usama over the top but only managed a leading edge to hand a simple catch to Babar Azam.
He remained the top-scorer for South Africa with a gutsy 91 in 93 deliveries, laced up with seven boundaries and three sixes.
South Africa further slipped to 250/8 in the next over when Gerald Coetzee got caught behind off Shaheen. He could score 10 in 13 deliveries.
With the departure of all their set batters, South Africa’s hopes were on Keshav Maharaj.
He put on a sensational 10-run partnership with Lungi Ngidi (4) before a match-winning 11-run partnership with Tabraiz Shamsi (4*).
Maharaj remained unbeaten with a 21-ball seven which featured one boundary.
Shaheen Shah Afridi led the bowling attack for Pakistan with 3/45 while Haris Rauf, Usama Mir and Mohammad Wasim Jr bagged two wickets each.
After opting to bat, Pakistan slipped to 38-2 in the seventh over, with both opening batters back in the dugout.
Skipper Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan then raised a 48-run stand for the third wicket before the latter knicked Gerald Coetzee to Quinton De Kock.
Rizwan’s 27-ball 31 featured four boundaries and one six.
Iftikhar Ahmed, who was promoted to bat at number five, then helped knit a 41-run partnership with Babar Azam. However, Tabraiz Shamsi removed both batters in back-to-back overs to reduce Pakistan to 141-5.
Babar Azam scored a 65-ball 50, while Iftikhar Ahmed contributed 21 runs from 31 balls.
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Saud Shakeel and Shadab Khan then stabilized Pakistan’s innings with a counterattacking partnership of 84 runs from 71 balls.
Coetzee returned to the attack to break the stand, as Shadab Khan spooned a bumper to the safe hands of Keshav Maharaj at short midwicket.
Khan scored 43 off 36 with the help of three boundaries and two sixes.
Saud Shakeel completed his third ODI half-century before getting caught behind by Shamsi at a total of 240-7. His run-a-ball 52 featured seven boundaries.
Mohammad Nawaz then scored an anchoring 24 to help drag Pakistan’s total to 268, before a leading edge off Marco Jansen flew high and was caught by David Miller.
Subsequently, Lungi Ngidi picked his solitary wicket to wrap Pakistan’s innings at 270.
Tabraiz Shamsi topped the bowling charts for South Africa with his four-fer, while Marco Jansen achieved figures of 3-43.