Fri, Feb 09, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Pakistan batsmen blitz South Africa to square series

BIG HITTER Shahid Afridi mauled the Proteas' attack, smashing six sixes and five fours in a whirlwind innings of 77 not out, before doing more damage with the ball

AFP , DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA

Pakistani batsman Shahid Afridi keeps an eye on the ball as he hits a four off South African bowler Andre Nel in Durban on Wednesday.

PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan turned the tables on South Africa when a spectacular batting performance set up a 141-run win in the second one-day international at Kingsmead on Wednesday.

In what was almost a mirror image of the first match in Centurion, Pakistan hammered 351 for four after winning the toss, only 41 runs fewer than South Africa made on the way to a 164-run win on Sunday.

South Africa were bowled out for 210.

Mohammad Yousuf made a high-class 101 not out but the assault was set up by opening batsman Imran Nazir, who attacked South Africa's normally reliable new ball bowlers, Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini.

Nazir, brought into the side after missing the opening match, hit 57 off 39 balls.

"They put us under pressure from the word go," admitted South African captain Graeme Smith.

"We didn't respond well enough. Our skills let us down slightly tonight. Maybe it's the wake-up call we needed to put our feet back on the ground and go to [the third match in] Port Elizabeth and perform a lot better there."

Pakistan's senior batsmen, Younis Khan (93) and Yousuf batted solidly in a stand of 124 off 136 balls, while Shahid Afridi made a thrilling return to form by thrashing 77 not out off only 35 balls with six sixes and five fours.

Yousuf and Afridi put on an unbeaten 129 off 70 balls for the fifth wicket.

Opening bowler Mohammad Asif bowled unchanged for his full ten overs at the start of the South African innings, picking up the wickets of Smith and Herschelle Gibbs at a cost of 29 runs.

Afridi followed up his batting contribution by taking three for 25 with his leg-breaks, while off-spinner Shoaib Malik took two for 27.

Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq said his players had worked hard in the nets.

He paid tribute to Nazir for giving the side a good start.

"Playing in his first match he was amazingly good," the skipper said.

Inzamam added the other batsmen had followed Nazir's example and he singled out Afridi.

"He is coming into form and hopefully he will carry on," he said.

Not even a power failure could stop Pakistan's surge to a victory which squared the five-match series.

South Africa were struggling at 113 for four after 19.4 overs -- two balls short of the minimum required to achieve a result in an interrupted match -- when all the stadium lights went out.

When the lights came back on, Ashwell Prince fell to the first ball bowled by Azhar Mahmood, recalled to international cricket after a two-year absence, and South Africa's fate was effectively sealed.

South Africa made a good start when Pollock won an lbw verdict against Kamran Akmal off the fourth ball of the innings.

But Nazir played some audacious pulls, cuts and drives, forcing Smith to change his usually predictable game plan. Pollock and Ntini were both taken off after only four overs each.

Khan and Yousuf played more conventional cricket but kept the scoring rate at close to a run a ball.

In the absence of a specialist spin bowler Smith brought himself on to bowl off-breaks and was rewarded with the wicket of Khan, caught on the midwicket boundary after hitting nine fours and two sixes in a 98-ball innings.

But the arrival of Afridi signalled carnage for the bowlers. Afridi played some extraordinary strokes including two sweep shots for four against Ntini, whipping fast deliveries aimed at his stumps to the fine leg boundary.

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