Pakistan leveled the five-match ODI series at 2-2 after securing a comprehensive eight-wicket win in the second ODI against South Africa in Johannesburg.
The Pink Day match at Jo’burg is special for South Africa as players and many spectators, dressed in pink, pledge their support for breast cancer awareness.
Also, Jo’burg has become a fortress of sorts in ODIs for South Africa having not lost a 50-over game there in seven years. But a four-wicket burst from left-arm paceman Usman Shinwari and another fine fifty by opener Imam-ul-Haq helped Pakistan first bowl out the Proteas for 164 before reaching target with more than 18 overs to spare.
It was a particularly impressive performance from Pakistan who were without regular skipper Sarfraz Ahmed who was handed a four-match suspension by the ICC for his racist remarks to South Africa all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo in the second match in Durban.
Here we take a look at the main talking points from the fourth ODI.
SHINWARI BREAKS SOUTH AFRICA’S BACK
South Africa's worst last 5 wickets collapses in ODIs:— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) January 27, 2019
5-7 vs PAK, East London, 1993
5-7 vs PAK, Singapore, 2000
5-8 vs PAK, Johannesburg, today
All three by Pakistan's bowling! #RSAvPak
On a pitch that had some help for the bowlers, Pakistan bowlers kept South Africa batsmen on a tight leash from the get go.
Left-arm quick Shaheen Afridi got things rolling by getting the scalps of opener Quinton de Kock and one-down batsman Reeza Hendricks. However, it was fellow left-arm quick Usman Shinwari who broke South Africa’s back in an inspired spell with the older ball.
In the 38th over, with the Proteas 155-5, Shinwari accounted for in-form Rassie van der Dussen before getting Dale Steyn and Kagido Rabada off successive deliveries. Then off the first ball of his next over, Shinwari dismissed Phehlukwayo caught at slip to get four wickets in six balls. South Africa were bundled out for 164.
IMAM CONTINUES FINE FORM
Opener Imam-ul-Haq made it a point to silence his critics after reaching his century in the third ODI, later explaining that he had been unfairly targeted as he is the nephew of chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq. The left-handed opener survived a testing early spell and then blossomed as the inning progressed to score 71 from 91 balls and put the match beyond South Africa’s reach. It was his third fifty-plus score in four ODIs in the series.
Fellow opener Fakhar Zaman made a run-a-ball 44 to give the visitors an edge at the top of the order. With Pakistan’s middle order already having experience in Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik – the stand-in captain – their 50-over cricket looks in fine fettle.
JOHANNESBURG FORTRESS BREACHED
South Africa have a great record in Jo’Burg in ODIs. The last time they lost an ODI at the venue was in January 2012 against Sri Lanka. They had won seven straight ODIs thereafter and looked good to take a winning lead on Sunday.
However, Pakistan’s attack that had three left-arm quicks and one left-arm spinner blew the Proteas away to set up the series decider in Cape Town.
Another positive for Pakistan was that left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir took his first wicket in seven ODIs.
Fast bowler Mohammad Amir earned a recall to Pakistan‘s 15-man squad for next month’s three-match T20 series against South Africa.
Amir – who had earlier been dropped following a disastrous Asia Cup in the UAE last year – has found his way back in the set-up in quick time.
The left-arm quick was not part of the Pakistan side that beat Australia and New Zealand 3-0 in T20s in the United Arab Emirates last year.
After the ongoing five-match ODI series in South Africa, Pakistan will play T20 matches in Cape Town (February 1), Johannesburg (February 3) and Centurion (February 6).
However, there was no place for domestic T20 performers like Khurram Manzoor, Rizwan Hussain and Salman Butt, who were the top-run scorers in Pakistan’s National Twenty20 Cup last month.
Also, there was no place in the team for the top T20 wicket-takers -Amad Butt, Umaid Asif and Mohammad Irfan.
Pakistan are ranked No1 in T20s having won nine consecutive games.
Chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq said squad was picked keeping in mind this year’s World Cup and the Twenty20 World Cup next year.
“We need to give as much exposure and experience to our up and coming players as possible, but without compromising on the assignments in hand,” he said.
Squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Asif Ali, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Hasan Ali, Hussain Talat, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Sahibzada Farhan, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Usman Shinwari
Pakistan opener Imam-ul-Haq had a special message for his detractors as he scored a century in the third ODI against South Africa in Centurion.
Imam’s 101 helped Pakistan post 317-6 in the third match of the series. The hosts were 187-2 after 33 overs before rain intervened and the Proteas won by the DLS method.
For Imam, it was a gratifying knock as he has been forced to justify his place in the team almost every time he goes out to bat because he is the nephew of chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq. Some have accused former captain Inzamam of favouritism while selecting his nephew.
Imam, who scored 86 in the first ODI, has now reached 1,000 runs in 19 innings – the second quickest to the mark. But questions of favouritism have always followed Imam, even though he did decently in the Tests against South Africa, scoring a fifty and crossing 30 twice across six innings.
After his ton in the third ODI, Imam put his finger on his lips as part of an emotional celebration.
When asked what was the reason for his charged up reaction, Imam said: “Everybody knows I am the nephew of the chief selector (Inzamam-ul-Haq) and that was a message to all the Pakistan media and all Pakistan people who criticise me.”
Despite a solid effort with the bat and the promise of a close finish, Pakistan lost by 13 runs following a second rain interruption.
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis, who was unbeaten on 40, said he was glad his batsmen were up to the task. Batsman Reeza Hendricks was unbeaten on 83 alongside Faf.
Du Plessis said: “We were below par with the ball. We were a bit flat. But the nice thing is we have guys who are putting their hands up. We want to see how guys perform under pressure.”