BIRMINGHAM: After losing with arch-rival India, Pakistan bounced back in the Champions Trophy by 19-run win over South Africa at Edgbaston on Wednesday that kept their Champions Trophy semi-final hopes alive.
Pakistan restricted South Africa to 219 for eight after losing the toss. After the spinners did the initial damage, paceman Hasan Ali took three for 24 in eight overs.
And when fast bowler Morne Morkel took two wickets in three balls, Pakistan were faltering at 41 for two under the floodlights in this day/night fixture.
But Babar Azam (31 not out) and Shoaib Malik (16 not out) took Pakistan to 119 for three off 27 overs when heavy rain stopped play at 7.41pm.
That left them well ahead of their target score of 101 so that when the umpires finally decided more than two hours later that a resumption was impossible, Pakistan had beaten South Africa under the Duckworth/Lewis method for the second successive ICC 50-over tournament following a 29-run win at the 2015 World Cup.
It left Group B wide open, with three teams on a win apiece after South Africa defeated Sri Lanka by 96 runs at the Oval last week.
“It’s a very important win for us,” said Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmad.
“We were good in all departments today.
“Steve Rixon (the Pakistan fielding coach) was very happy today, we didn’t field well the other day, today we were much better.”
Hasan, the man-of-the-match, added: “We all worked very hard on our fielding.”
South Africa captain AB de Villiers, who suffered the first golden duck in his 212 career ODI innings during the Proteas’ top-order collapse, said: “They bowled pretty well, put us under pressure.”
De Villiers, struggling with a hamstring problem, added: “The hamstring is okay, felt a little tweak, but we’ll check it out tomorrow (Thursday). I don’t think it’s too serious.”
Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir and Junaid Khan, in for the injured Wahab Riaz, took the new ball.
But it was the spin duo of Imad Wasim and Mohammad Hafeez who did the early damage. Left-armer Imad struck second ball when Hasim Amla (16) was lbw. Off-spinner Hafeez then had Quinton de Kock (33) lbw on the sweep.
The two spinners combined when de Villiers departed by slicing Imad to Hafeez at backward point – a wicket greeted by huge cheers from the large Pakistan contingent in a crowd of more than 18,000.