Pollock inspires SA to victory

South Africa levelled the ODI series with a convincing seven wicket win over Pakistan to make it 2-2 with a single game at Lahore to come.

The hard work was achieved in the first half by South Africa, when Shoaib Malik won the toss and elected to set the total as averse to chasing it, the hosts were impressively restricted to 230-9 thanks to a discplined Proteas attack.

Captain Graeme Smith and Shaun Pollock came together at the fall of the first wicket and put on 159 to make light work of Paksitan’s below par total.

Mohammad Asif appeared in this one-day series for the first time, having recovered from his elbow problem and took the place of Sohail Tanvir. For South Africa, Andre Nel replaced Charl Langeveldt, and vice-captain Justin Kemp lost his place to JP Duminy.

The track was predicted to favour batsmen over bowlers, but you would not have guessed when Pakistan quickly fell to 38-3. The experiment of Shahid Afridi as opener, that was successful to a degree in Faislabad, failed here in Multan, as Makhaya Ntini induced a typically aggressive mis-timed pull from Afridi to mid-on. Pollock accounted for Yasir Hameed, thanks to an outstanding diving effort from Herschelle Gibbs, while Mohammad Yousuf’s impressive run of scores, 53, 117, 58*, came to an end when he turned blindly for an optimistic two that saw him short of his ground.

The South African opening attack of Ntini and Pollock were economical throughout, with the recalled Nel adding trademark fire and accuracy to the bowling options.

A partnership between Younis Khan and the consistent skipper Shoaib Malik, took Pakistan from their precarious situation to a much brighter 129-3, before Malik fell to a cleverly disguised slower ball from Jacques Kallis.

Younis batted sensibly and his exquisite placement was the key to his 82. On the odd occasion he went for the big hit, he succeeded by striking Pollock and Johan Botha for maximums over long-on, before he was dismissed in the 38th over.

A vital partnership of 60 off just over 10 overs between Kamran Akmal and Abdur Rehman enabled Pakistan to have a total on the board that they had the potential of defending.

If the home side were in any doubt how South Africa would go about their chase, then the opening 10 overs revealed everything. Smith and Gibbs had blasted their side to 65-0, and given them the kind of platform successful chases are built on.

Shahid Afridi has been Pakistan’s pick of the bowlers in this series, and he did not disappoint his followers when he trapped Gibbs lbw with his first ball. The fact that umpire Billy Bowden may have misjudged the direction the ball was travelling in, was of no relevance to the buoyant Pakistan supporters, who thought their side may have shown early signs of fighting their way back into the contest.

Pinch hitting was deemed a thing of the past, but South Africa re-introduced the tactic with Pollock coming in at three. His positive strokeplay aligned with his ability to play spin well was the thought process behind his promotion.

His performance may have been beyond the management’s wildest dreams as he took the attack to Pakistan, and with the solid and defiant Smith at the other end, the game was only going one way.

Iftikhar Anjum removed both the South Africans, but the damage had already well and truly been done, Pollock made 90 off 84 balls, with Smith a little more circumspect in his no-less important 81. Jacques Kallis was left with the simple task of flicking the ball square on the leg side to complete the victory.

Pakistan 230-9 (50 overs)
Younis Khan 82, Shoaib Malik 45, Abdur Rehman 31
Johna Botha 2-41, Andre Nel 2-44

South Africa 233-3 (37.4 overs)
Shaun Pollock 90, Graeme Smith 81, Herschelle Gibbs 39
Iftikhar Anjum 2-27

South Africa won by 7 wickets

Cricket Web Man of the Match : S. Pollock

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