Pakistan's bowling proves crucial in victory over South Africa in first ODI

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Pakistan's bowling effort was top notch on Saturday.

Pakistan drew first blood in the opening match of five-match series with a five-wicket win over South Africa in the Port Elizabeth ODI on Saturday.

Having been set a target of 267 to win by the hosts, Sarfraz Ahmed and his men reached the target with five balls to spare in the end to complete a hard-fought win.

At the end of an engrossing ODI between the two sides, we take a look at the talking points.

AMLA CRACKS 27TH TON, DUSSEN MISSES HIS BY A WHISKER

After Faf du Plessis opted to bat first, South Africa openers Hashim Amla and Reeza Hendricks put on a commanding 82-run stand for the first wicket.

The hosts were dealt the first blow when Hendricks top-edged a Shadab Khan delivery into the hands of Hasan Ali. That brought Proteas debutant Rassie van der Dussen to the crease and the right hander immediately showed his striking prowess.

While Amla looked to collect runs, Dussen was more aggressive in his approach. Amla made his good form count by bringing up a 27th ODI ton with a flourishing six in the penultimate over.

Dussen too, was looking good for a century on his debut but he fell short by seven runs after he was caught in the deep. It was an unfortunate dismissal off a full toss for the debutant but his 155-run stand with Amla had put the hosts in a strong position.

A 27th ton in the format for Hashim Amla.

A 27th ton in the format for Hashim Amla.

DISCIPLINED PAKISTAN RESTRICT PROTEAS

Despite South Africa losing just two wickets in their quota of 50 overs, their batsmen were not allowed to run away thanks to some disciplined death bowling from Pakistan’s bowlers.

Shadab Khan (1-41) and Hasan Ali (1-42) were mainly responsible for drying up the scoring rates but it was in the death overs that Pakistan’s bowlers truly dazzled. Despite having nine wickets in hand at the 40-over mark, the hosts were able to collect only 76 runs from the final 10 overs and just 34 from the last five.

Their total of 266-2 was the second lowest in history by any team batting first that had lost only two wickets. For that unwanted record, full credit goes to Pakistan’s bowlers who were on point with their lines and lengths.

Shadab Khan did not allow South Africa's batsmen any easy runs.

Shadab Khan did not allow South Africa’s batsmen any easy runs.

HAFEEZ HOLDS HIS NERVE TO GUIDE PAKISTAN OVER FINISH LINE

Pakistan got off to a decent start in their chase of 267 with a 45-run stand between openers Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman. Once the latter fell to Duanne Olivier, Babar Azam and Imam laid a solid platform with a 94-stand for the second wicket.

Babar was unfortunate to miss out on his half-century by one run but veteran Mohammad Hafeez provided able support to Imam upon his arrival to the crease to continue the good work.

Pakistan suffered some brief hiccups in the latter half of their innings once Imam was dismissed for 86 with Sarfraz Ahmed and Shoaib Malik falling cheaply to set up a tense finish.

However, Hafeez showed all of his experience to guide Pakistan through a tricky period in the death overs and pave the way for a comfortable five-wicket win in the end. The veteran all-rounder remained unbeaten on 71 in what was a tense finish in the last few overs.

Hafeez brought all his experience to the fore.

Hafeez brought all his experience to the fore.

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Mohamamed Hafeez has brought up a half-century.

South Africa posted a total of 266-2 from their 50 overs in the first ODI against Pakistan at Port Elizabeth. In reply, Pakistan lost Fakhar Zaman (23) after a 45-run stand for the first wicket.

A 94-stand for the second wicket ensued between Babar Azam and Imam-ul-Haq before the former was dismissed one run short of a fifty by Hendricks.

Imam was ultimately dismissed for 86 and Pakistan suffered some late hiccups in their innings but an unbeaten 71 from Mohammad Hafeez saw the visitors notch up a five-wicket win with five deliveries to spare.

South Africa openers Hashim Amla and Reeza Hendricks’ 82-run stand for the first wicket was finally broken by Shadab Khan who had the latter (45) caught at midwicket. Amla though, continued to march on in the company of Dussen and brought up his 27th ton in the format in the penultimate over.

Amla’s ton and Dussen’s 93 helped the hosts post 266 although it was the second lowest ODI total in history by a team batting first which had lost only two wickets.

Earlier, Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis won the toss and elected to bat first in the first of the five-match ODI series.

Who will take the early bragging rights in the five-match series? Do not miss the action from Port Elizabeth by following our ball-by-ball coverage below.

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Rishabh Pant will play the fourth and fifth match for India A.

Rishabh Pant and Ajinkya Rahane will get a chance to stake a claim for a place in India’s ODI squad after they were picked in the India A side which will take on England Lions in a five-match one-day series.

Rahane has been designated as the India A skipper for the first three one-dayers while Pant has been included in the squad for the fourth and fifth match.

Rahane has not featured in India’s ODI setup ever since the tour of South Africa at the start of 2018 but has a chance to work himself into contention for the World Cup squad with his call up for India A.

Rahane has not played an ODI since the start of 2018.

Rahane has not played an ODI since the start of 2018.

Pant, meanwhile, has made a bright start to his Test career but has found opportunities hard to come by in the ODI setup with MS Dhoni still going strong. The youngster was not included in the ODI squads for the ongoing tours of Australia and New Zealand.

Along with Rahane, all-rounder Krunal Pandya too has been called up for the first three one-dayers against England Lions.

The five one-day matches will be held at Thiruvananthapuram with the first clash taking place on January 23. The final match of the series will be held on January 31 before the action moves on to two unofficial Tests between the two sides at Wayanad.

India A squad for first three one-dayers

Ajinkya Rahane (c), Anmolpreet Singh, Rituraj Gaekwad, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Ankit Bawne, Ishan Kishan (wk), Krunal Pandya, Axar Patel, Mayank Markande, Jayant Yadav, Siddarth Kaul, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini

India A squad for fourth and fifth one-dayers

Ankit Bawne (c), Rituraj Gaekwad, Anmolpreet Singh, Ricky Bhui, Siddhesh Lad, Himmat Singh, Rishabh Pant (wk), Deepak Hooda, Axar Patel, Rahul Chahar, Jayant Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Avesh Khan, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur

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