Pakistan have pulled off an unlikely 29-run win over South Africa at Eden Park in Auckland despite the best efforts of Proteas captain AB de Villiers to see his side through.
De Villiers reached 77, and South Africa were just 32 runs away from victory, but it wasn’t enough in the face of an onslaught from a Pakistan seam attack that skittled the Proteas for 202 and consigned them to their second World Cup defeat.
Mohhamad Irfan, Wahab Riaz and Rahat Ali all got three wickets while wicketkeeper Safraz Ahmed took a world record six catches.
Pakistan had reached 222 all out but, because of two rain stoppages, South Africa were set 232 to chase in a revised total under the Duckworth Lewis system.
It was all go from the second ball when Irfan took the wicket of Quinton de Kock for a duck. South African opener Hashim Amla looked set to blitz the Pakistan attack, getting all but two of his 38 runs from boundaries, but he was caught behind off the bowling of Riaz before the Proteas collapsed.
Often his team’s saviour, de Villiers simply couldn’t salvage the game on his own and was forced to stand as wicket after wicket fell.
Earlier de Villiers won the toss and elected to send Pakistan in to bat on a warm, humid Auckland afternoon.
Pakistan, despite posting the highest opening partnership (30) of their World Cup campaign so far, never really got going because of reckless shots and poor running decisions.
Steyn was the best of the bowlers getting three wickets, including that of Pakistan captain Misbah ul Haq, for just 30 runs off his 10 overs.
In four innings so far this World Cup Pakistan’s openers had only managed a meagre 22 runs. Change was required so they brought in Sarfraz Ahmed for the woefully out of form Nasir Jamshed.
Safraz performed well, making 49 off 49 balls, before getting caught off a reckless shot. From there only captain Misbah made any meaningful contribution, passing 5000 international runs on his way to 56 before being caught out off the bowling of Steyn in the 44th over.
Misbah became only the 12th Pakistani cricketer to reach the 5000-run milestone and the first batsman to reach the milestone without scoring a single century.
Pakistan were 175-5 in the 37th over when showers forced the teams from the field for 30 minutes and were stopped again shortly after while on 197-5.
The break did not sit well with Pakistan. They lost five wickets in quick succession, including that of Misbah, to end up on 222.