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Pakistan hold their nerve to level T20 series

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Pakistan took a share of the spoils in the T20 series as they beat South Africa by six runs at Sahara Park Newlands on Friday evening to level the two-match T20 International Series at 1-1. Batting first, Pakistan piled on an impressive 176 runs on the back of half centuries from Mohammed Hafeez and Umar Akmal. The visitors then restricted to South Africa to 170 thanks to an inspired spell of bowling from Shahid Afridi who took out some three top order stars in a typical spell of fast leg spin bowling and a terrific final over from Sohail Tanvir

Pakistan also unearthed yet another fast bowling talent in 22-year-old Bilawal Bhatti in this match. Bilawal might not have got a game had the giant Mohammed Iran been fit enough to undertake the tour but he has taken his chance well after making his international debut in the previous match at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium on Wednesday evening.

He bowled two crucial spells to finish with the most economical figures of the match by conceding only 19 runs in his first four overs. With a bit of luck he might have got a wicket as well as he showed clever changes of pace, particularly when he opted for his short-pitched delivery, and also bowled some excellent full length deliveries. He generates good pace and has, in fact, taken more than 200 wickets in his 49 first-class appearances.

Bilawal’s first spell of two overs for eight runs came in support of Shahid Afridi who inflicted mortal damage by taking 3/11 off 16 balls, his victims being the key scalps of Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers. Once again the Pakistan spinners played a major role with Afridi taking 3/28 in four overs in spite of going for 15 in his last over, the recalled Saeed Ajmal 1/30 in his four and Mohammed Hafeez 0/26 in three.

Hafeez played a major role in the victory as he shared a Pakistan record for any wicket against South Africa of 102 in 9.1 overs with Umar Akmal. Hafeez contributed 63 off 41 balls (5 fours and 3 sixes) and Akmal 64 off 37 balls (5 fours and 4 sixes).

Apart from Dale Steyn (2/29 in 4 overs) all the Proteas bowlers were on the receiving end although Morne Morkel had a good finishing over – the 18th – that only went for three runs and kept the target down to slightly more manageable proportions.

Pakistan’s total of 176 was the second highest at Sahara Park Newlands, only being beaten by England’s 188 against Zimbabwe at the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in 2007.

Hashim Amla (48 off 40 balls, 5 fours) and JP Duminy (47 not out off 26 balls, 3 fours and 2 sixes) were the chief contributor to the South African reply. In the process Duminy took his tally of sixes in this international format to 34 to be joint level with Albie Morkel as the Proteas leading boundary clearer.

South Africa were in the match heading into the final over, needing 17 off it to win after scoring 34 from the previous two. However, Sohail Tanvir kept his nerve against Duminy and David Miller, conceding 4 singles from the first 4 balls to end the match as a contest.

Mini Scorecard:

Pakistan 176-4 (20 overs)

South Africa 170-4 (20 overs)

Pakistan win by 6 runs