Shadab Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed hand Pakistan much needed victory against SA

Both Pakistani and South African players were put to test when the two teams squared off for their T20 World Cup 2022 fixture at the Sydney Cricket Ground. It turned out to be a rain-curtailed match as the weather played a spoilsport in the second innings, but Pakistan continued their momentum in the game and claimed a crucial win, defeating the Proteas by 33 runs.

The game started with Pakistan winning the toss and electing to bat first. South Africa dominated the initial phase of the first innings as their bowlers were at their best. Pakistan suffered a major blow as their opening batter Mohammad Rizwan was dismissed cheaply in the very first over, courtesy of Wayne Parnell. Mohammad Haris, who replaced Fakhar Zaman in the squad, joined skipper Babar Azam at the top order and wreaked havoc on the field.

While Babar struggled to score, Haris scored a quick-fire 11-ball 28 before being dismissed by Anrich Nortje. Babar, who had not been at his best this tournament, failed to fire yet again as he was dismissed cheaply by Lungisani Ngidi for a 15-ball 6, and Pakistan lost three wickets within the powerplay. Just when the middle-order batters looked to fire, Nortje struck again to pick up his second in the form of Shan Masood.

It was then the fireworks by middle-order batters Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, and Shadab Khan which helped Pakistan survive the early scare. While Nawaz walked back scoring 28 runs off 22 deliveries, including four fours and a six, Iftikhar and Shadab kept going and notched up their respective half-centuries. While Iftikhar smashed two sixes and three fours, Shadab amassed as many fours, but struck four huge sixes, leading Pakistan to end high on 185/9.

Pakistan bowlers shine, end South Africa’s winning streak

South Africa’s start to the chase was sluggish, and Shaheen Afridi bounced back to form by dismissing the in-form Quinton de Kock for a five-ball duck in the very first over. He returned to bowl the third over and added a second wicket under his belt by dismissing Rilee Rossouw. Proteas skipper and opening batter Temba Bavuma, who had been out of form, looked promising with the bat and scored a good 19-ball 36 during his time on the field.

After Afridi, it was Shadab Khan who provided his side with the crucial breakthroughs and dismissed Bavuma and Aiden Markram in the same over, in just three deliveries. The four big wickets put South Africa in the backseat as they were behind the DLS par score when rain stopped play. The game started after a brief pause, and South Africa’s revised target was 142 in the reduced 14 overs, leaving them to get 73 runs in five overs.

Tristan Stubbs and Heinrich Klaasen resumed the game brilliantly and smacked multiple boundaries, but Afridi returned for his final over and broke the partnership by dismissing the latter. Pakistan bowlers kept picking up wickets and added up to South Africa’s troubles. The Proteas, who had been unbeaten in the tournament so far, were handed their first defeat as Pakistan bagged their second win of the tournament.