SA openers torch Pakistan

In easily the most one-sided Twenty20 match yet to be played on the international stage, South Africa demolished Pakistan in Johannesburg, romping home to a ten-wicket victory.

Chasing 130 after Pakistan struggled against the swinging white ball, Proteas’ captain Graeme Smith lashed 71 from just 40 balls, while one-day specialist Loots Bosman smashed 53 from 32. After an admittedly weakened Pakistan seam attack of Naved-ul-Hasan, Shabbir Ahmed and Abdul Razzaq suffered early on, the slower bowlers were unable to put the skates on the home openers as Smith and Bosman cruised home with over eight overs to spare.

In all, Smith hit four sixes, all over the deep midwicket boundary, including the winning runs of Shahid Afridi, while Bosman slapped three maximums. Pakistan appeared to collapse under the hail of boundaries, bowling short and wide, no-balling and misfielding. Kamran Akmal was relieved of the gloves by Zulqarnain Haider after a torrid Test series, but found no solace in the outfield, spilling Bosman at long-on.

Earlier, the South African seamers had run amok as Pakistan’s batsmen faltered under the floodlights. After losing Imran Nazir for five early on, Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez rebuilt securely to take the tourists to 52-1 before both fell in quick succession and the rest of the batting order resembled a procession.

With no Inzamam or Mohammad Yousuf to supply the middle-order thrust, eight wickets tumbled for 53 runs, the collapse punctuated by a brief shower. The recalled Shahid Afridi looked most out of touch, swiping unsuccessfully for 17 balls before skying Alfonso Thomas to backward point for seven. It took Naved to swat the final two balls of the innings over the leg side fence for six to give Pakistan anything approaching a large enough total to defend.

That is not to take anything away from the South African attack, which continually tested the outside edge and extracted the full potential from the bowler-friendly conditions. Shaun Pollock was as ever deadly accurate, but it was four seamers all probably contesting for two World Cup places that stole the limelight. Thomas, Roger Telemachus, Johannes van der Wath and Albie Morkel were hostile yet inexpensive and should get the chance to further their claims for a seat on the plane to the Caribbean over the next ten days.

The series five one-day internationals between the two sides kicks off this coming Sunday, February 4, in Cape Town.

Pakistan 129-8 (20 overs)
Kamran Akmal 21 (18), Mohammad Hafeez 25 (21), Naved-ul-Hasan 17* (13)
Alfonso Thomas 3-25, Albie Morkel 1-16, Roger Telemachus 1-22, Johannes van der Wath 1-23, Shaun Pollock 1-26

South Africa 132-0 (11.3 overs)
Graeme Smith 71* (40), Loots Bosman 53* (32)

South Africa won by 10 wickets
Cricket Web Man of the Match: Graeme Smith

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