SA trounce awful Pakistan

A devastating spell of hitting from Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis set up a thumping victory for South Africa over Pakistan today. The two put on 110 runs in just six overs as the Pakistani bowlers fell apart, as the home side marched to a massive 392-6 off their 50 overs. Pakistan struggled in reply, making only *** as their top order collapsed under the weight of their target.

The day began with Inzamam-ul-Haq inexplicably inserting the home side on what looked a perfect batting strip – he paid for his bizarre decision in spades. Pakistani cricket has always had a reputation for producing explosive, all-action teams; this particular one must have exploded yesterday at net practice, because South Africa were faced with nothing more than the broken pieces of a cricket team by the time their innings reached full flow.

Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers have both endured their own respective tough periods of late, but when both are in their stride, they are a difficult partnership to halt. Smith’s 100th ODI produced one of his most devastating innings – in recent years he has laid down a strong claim to be one of the world’s leading Twenty20 bastsmen, and seems intent on transferring his skills across to the marginally longer form of the game. He smashed 72 off only 47 balls, taking to pieces a Pakistani attack which did not seem to know how to bowl a dot ball. One over cost Rana Naved-ul-Hasan no less than 27 runs, as no-balls and wides came left, right and centre, often literally speaking. Remarkably, Smith hit fifteen fours but no sixes in his powerful knock – de Villiers, however, weighed in with two in an innings of 67 from 78 balls.

This assault, however, was nothing compared to that which would come later. Once Smith and de Villiers had departed, to spinners Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez, Kallis and Ashwell Prince set about what was almost a salvage operation of sorts – Loots Bosman’s dismissal for 4 meant that three wickets were gone by the time the innings reached its halfway point. Kallis and Prince proceeded calmly, as they are apt to do – but Prince’s dismissal for 39 prompted what can only be referred to as utter carnage.

Mark Boucher took twelve balls to get his eye in – he had only seven on the board at that point – but his next 26 balls produced no less than 71 runs, as he laid waste to anything the Pakistani bowlers could offer up. The assault began to warm up with several clubbed fours off the bowling of Hafeez and Mohammad Sami, but picked up the pace soon after, Boucher taking consecutive sixes followed by consecutive fours in Hafeez’s next over. The usually sedate Kallis followed this by murdering 22 runs off Abdul Razzaq’s only over, including three mammoth maximums.

The assault peaked, however, in Mohammad Asif’s 47th over. The following is the result of Boucher and Kallis’ efforts therein: 4nb, 4, dot, 6, 1, 4, 1nb, 6, a total of 28 runs. Pakistan’s efforts at death bowling were nothing short of abysmal, a series of no-balls and wides accompanied by plenty of length balls which Kallis and Boucher were more than happy to deposit into the stands. Boucher’s 78 from 38 balls was as brilliant as it was brutal, while Kallis’ unbeaten 88 was a characteristically nonchalant effort, however bombastic it may have appeared. South Africa’s eventual total of 392-6 was more than they could have hoped for – while it did not match the 438 they made last year against Australia, it was accomplished without the hero of that particular hour, Herschelle Gibbs, who continues to serve out his suspension for his comments towards the Pakistan crowd.

Pakistan’s chances of chasing such a large total were always going to be slim – indeed, they may have found themselves looking to their opposition for inspiration, in the light of last year’s aforementioned Johannesburg Miracle – but they decreased even further when neither of the two batsmen emerging to open the innings turned out to be Shahid Afridi. The big all-rounder’s powerful hitting would have provided perhaps Pakistan’s only chance of chasing such a total, and although he did turn up at number four, by then the chance for a fast start had been wasted, and Afridi perished for 17.

Afridi’s dismissal supplied yet another moment of controversy to add to his ever-growing list – a spectator appeared to say something to him as he left the field, and received what could be termed a “poke” from Afridi’s bat for his troubles. It remains to be seen whether Afridi will be punished for this incident, but either way, it will not help the image of Pakistani cricket in what has been a particularly troubled last 12 months.

Pakistan’s efforts to chase the target folded soon after they had begun – all the top order made starts, but Mohammad Yousuf’s sprightly 39 was the closest any of them got to making any headway into the target. The undoubted Man of 2006 hit two sixes in his 25-ball effort, but could not stem the flow of wickets, as Makhaya Ntini continued his good form with three more scalps. Kallis also chipped in with three, to round off his good day in style. Once the touring side’s victory chase died out, Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Sami fought bravely for some pride, with Sami hitting a career best 46 and Malik a fighting half-century, but in the end the result was never in doubt. Pakistan were simply not good enough.

South Africa 392-6 (50 overs)
Jacques Kallis 88*, Mark Boucher 78, Graeme Smith 72, AB de Villiers 67; Shahid Afridi 2-42

South Africa won by 164 runs

Pakistan 228 all out (46.4 overs)
Shoaib Malik 52*; Jacques Kallis 3-34, Makhaya Ntini 3-51

Cricket Web Player of the Match – Mark Boucher, 78 (38 balls, 9×4, 4×6) and two catches

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