Afridi does it all for Pakistan

Shahid Afridi starred with bat, ball and in the field to take Pakistan to a 2-1 series lead over South Africa.

Thanks to excellent bowling and fielding, Pakistan’s target was just 198, and a mixture of some good hitting and a watchful 58 from Mohammad Yousuf saw them home with ease.

South Africa’s captain Graeme Smith won the toss and elected to bat on what looked to be a pitch excellent for batting. However, in actuality, it would be prove to be slow, offering turn, and making sure runs were hard to come by.

Smith and Herschelle Gibbs made a decent start, putting on 43 in 8 overs. The partnership was broken though, by Umar Gul, who induced an edge from Gibbs for the first of two wickets in a tidy spell. With Kallis looking to bed in alongside Smith, Malik decided to turn to Afridi in the 15th over. The move paid dividends just two balls later, as Kallis drove to Misbah Ul-Haq in the covers.

Afridi then added a stunning catch to his performance, a diving effort at midwicket to remove De Villiers. Two down, South Africa tried to keep things ticking along in the middle overs, but tight bowling all round prevented them from doing so. This frustration led to the third wicket, that of Graeme Smith, who was run out by some good work by Shoaib Malik in the cover region.

It may have been hoped that Justin Kemp would be able to blast South Africa to a good total, he did make a slow 42 with two sixes, but was clean bowled by Afridi attempting a third. The lower order found it similarly difficult to score quickly, and they quickly folded, finishing on 197. Afridi finished with three wickets, as did Iftikhar Anjum, while Umar Gul chipped in with two.

Following his excellent performance in the field, Shahid Afridi opened the batting in his usual style. He sent the ball with alarming power to all parts of the field, but did survive a drop from Jacques Kallis on 10. His 32 from 18 balls gave Pakistan big boost at the start of their innings, and prevented South Africa from getting cheap wickets with the new ball.

Apart from Afridi though, Pakistan would prove to be circumspect with their batting. His opening partner, Yasir Hameed took 46 balls for his 18, before falling to Makhaya Ntini. With Younis Khan falling to Albie Morkel shortly afterwards, it took measured innings from Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Yousuf to steer Pakistan away from trouble.

From the start of his innings, Yousuf looked to have decided he would be there at the end. Barely an attacking shot was seen, most of his runs came through gentle nudges. Together, they managed to do something South Africa were not, form a significant partnership, that being 79. It was broken Morkel, Malik caught behind for 42.

Despite that wicket, Pakistan were able to get home with comfort. Misbah Ul-Haq scored at almost a run a ball to stop the required rate from ever getting remotely threatening, and with the ever-present Yousuf at the crease, it never looked as if Pakistan could lose. Six wickets was the margin of victory, and one that probably reflected Pakistan?s superiority in this game fairly accuraretly.

South Africa 197
Graeme Smith 48, Justin Kemp 42
Iftikhar Anjum 3-33, Shahid Afridi 3-37, Umar Gul 2-25

Pakistan 202-4
Mohammad Yousuf 58*, Shoaib Malik 42, Shahid Afridi 32
Albie Morkel 2-30

Pakistan win by six wickets

Cricket Web Man of the Match: Shahid Afridi

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