Sloppy Proteas set average target for Pakistan

South Africa: 234/9 (Amla 81, De Villiers 31, Du Plessis 28, Junaid Khan 2/45, Shoaib Malik 1/27, Mohammad Irfan 1/27)

Hashim Amla’s polished 81 propped up South Africa’s par total on a sluggish and turning track. The average first innings score in ODI’s at the ground is 232.

It could have been more if it wasn’t for two silly run-outs when the set batsmen gave away their wickets. It led to a late stagnation that could have dire consequences for the Proteas.

Pakistan’s batting may be fragile but they will have to bat out of their skins to keep their tournament hopes alive.

In heavily overcast conditions, Proteas captain AB de Villiers took a massive gamble in making first use of the wicket. With Pakistan’s swing-heavy attack, it was a tough ask but Colin Ingram and Amla put up a 53-run opening partnership.

It was slow but necessary as they were given nothing to hit. With a heavily left-handed batting line-up, Misbah-ul-Haq just waited for the end of the first powerplay to introduce Mohammed Hafeez, who got rid of Ingram.

South Africa countered the tactic by bringing in Faf du Plessis at number three. As good a spinner as Hafeez can be, he’s predictable to right-handers and suddenly life was easy for South Africa.

Amla and du Plessis shared a cautious 69-run stand filled with delightful boundaries and risky running. The duo is quick between the wickets but they are not the best of callers.

While their batting was measured, their shot selection was questionable in terms of their dismissals. Their partnership proved to be the biggest of South Africa’s innings.

Du Plessis was caught at cover trying to pull the lanky Mohammad Irfan, who extracted the most bounce from his nine-foot delivery. Amla was the next to fall, reverse sweeping Saeed Ajmal to Hafeez at short third-man.

The shot would have been a success for Amla had he negated the Ajmal threat but it was greed that was the end of him.

He did, however, make the most of the life given to him by Umar Amin, who dropped him on 7 off Mohammed Irfan.

It was going to be up to De Villiers and JP Duminy to set up the back end slog when the score reached 183/3 in the 40th.

Somehow, the Proteas found a way to disintegrate, losing Duminy and De Villiers to senseless run outs in the 41st and 43rd overs.

It meant South Africa slipped to 195/5 and the momentum was with Pakistan. Besides a 15-run 49th over, there was no late flurry to boost the total past 250..

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