Home » current affairs » Debutants Bhatti and Ali sink South Africa

Debutants Bhatti and Ali sink South Africa


The debutants Anwar Ali and Bilawal Bhatti had been selected primarily to bowl Pakistan to victory. They did that with five wickets between them, headlined by Bhatti’s superb use of the yorker at the death. They were not expected to bat Pakistan to a win, but they did that too, with a 74-run partnership for the eighth wicket that breathed life into an innings that was gasping for air.

Pakistan were floundering at about three runs an over for two-thirds their innings before the rookie pair got together to post a defendable total. The buoyancy that stand gave Pakistan was evident in the field. They put in a disciplined performance to strangle South Africa, and even though Jacques Kallis, who was playing in his first ODI in a year and nine months, scored a half-century, the hosts could not find their way back.

With a modest total to defend, Pakistan needed to make early incisions and Junaid Khan bowled Hashim Amla behind his legs in the third over. Misbah-ul-Haq immediately brought on Mohammad Hafeez to trouble Quinton de Kock but the offspinner got the better of Graeme Smith, when the Test captain reached forward to play him on the leg-side and was stumped.

South Africa’s oldest and youngest players put on the team’s highest partnership – 42. Kallis appeared in particularly good nick, hitting Junaid when he was too full and too short, launching Hafeez over midwicket and pulling Bhatti. He ushered de Kock through nervous periods but the left-hand batsman eventually played a lazy drive and was bowled through the gap between bat and pad.

Still, South Africa had no reason to be concerned, until AB de Villiers was bowled by Shahid Afridi, playing on the back foot when he should have been forward. Kallis was also bowled, by an Anwar Ali delivery that kept low and ricocheted off the toe end of his bat. Anwar also had David Miller caught behind to finish with 2 for 24. South Africa were 123 for 6.

With the big-hitter dismissed, Pakistan gave away only 26 runs in the next seven overs, before Misbah brought Saeed Ajmal back on. The plan worked as Vernon Philander looked to defend but was surprised by one that leapt up and took the edge to give backward point a catch. Duminy had to hold it together but was caught behind reverse-sweeping Ajmal.

South Africa’s tail wagged vigorously but Bhatti saved his best for last. Pinpoint yorkers got rid of both Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel to give Pakistan their first ODI win at Newlands, a South African fortress.

In hindsight, South Africa paid for the many chances they missed in the field. Despite the seamers employing tight lines and using the short ball well, it took South Africa 15.2 overs to make the first breakthrough. By then Nasir Jamshed, who was let off three times, and Ahmed Shehzad had posted 49. Steyn dropped Jamshed at fine leg and the batsman was well short of his ground twice while attempting singles, but South Africa could not pull off any direct hits.

Steyn eventually accounted for Jamshed, chasing and edging a ball outside off, and his bunny Mohammad Hafeez, but it was only when Shehzad, Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar Akmal had been dismissed that South Africa dictated proceedings. At 98 for 5, Pakistan could not get out of first gear and Sohaib Maqsood’s efforts to do so only created more chances.

He offered Imran Tahir a return catch, which the legspinner dropped, skied one between cover and mid-off that neither Smith nor Philander moved to take, and was dropped by de Villiers at long-off. Kallis eventually claimed Maqsood, when he slogged to mid-on.

Instead of folding from 131 for 7, after Afridi was dismissed, Pakistan ended up accumulating their most important runs. Bhatti and Anwar were together for 11.4 overs, responsibly rotated strike, got a little lucky, and accelerated at the right time.

Anwar took three fours off Kallis’ eighth over and Bhatti brought out his power-hitting against Morkel. Both men have first-class centuries to their name and showed the potential to become the seam-bowling allrounders Pakistan have missed for some time.

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