Pakistan trip up South Africa to revive campaign

Never mind the damp conclusion; this is Birmingham in June, what did you expect? The weather shouldn’t detract from the fact that Pakistan pulled off an upset in the game of the tournament so far. It is a shame the contest wasn’t able to carry on till its natural conclusion, because it could have been the day the 2017 Champions Trophy finally came to life. Instead, it was the day Pakistan ensured they remained alive, beating South Africa by 19 runs via the DLS method to complete a turnaround only they seem to be able to manage, and with inexplicable regularity.

Pakistan put on a vastly improved bowling display as they shackled South Africa’s batsmen to restrict them to 219. It might have been nearer 150 when Pakistan got rid of six South African batsmen inside the first 30 overs for 118, but David Miller, so often required only to provide late firepower, showed his all-round batting credentials. He anchored the innings with an unbeaten 75 off 104 balls. Hasan Ali finished with 3 for 24.

Hafeez and Babar Azam were stuck with negotiating the sustained pressure the bowlers were putting on them by now, the renewed energy in the fielding side palpable. Both were hanging around without ever looking especially comfortable, and South Africa always seemed to be on the cusp of a wicket. That arrived, somewhat inevitably, with the second ball of Morkel’s second spell, as Hafeez tried to pull one that grew too big on him, leaving Imran Tahir to take his second catch of the evening.

Rather than add pressure on Pakistan, that somehow relieved it, and what followed was their most free-scoring spell since the first six overs. Rabada and Morkel went for two boundaries each in their subsequent overs, and by the time rain intervened, Pakistan were 19 runs ahead on the DLS equation. That was good enough, on a day an unfancied Pakistan side had generally been exactly that.

 Summarized scores: Pakistan 119 for 3 (Babar 31*, Morkel 3-18) beat South Africa 219 for 8 (Miller 75*, de Kock 33, Hasan 3-24) by 19 runs (DLS method)

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