CENTURION - A counter-attacking century partnership between Reeza Hendricks and Faf du Plessis, coupled with more than a few rain interruptions, washed away Pakistan’s hopes of gaining a series lead in Centurion, after posting 317/6 in the third ODI. Having allowed Pakistan to the strong total, primarily due to their sloppy fielding, South Africa were staring at a stiff revised target when rain first intervened. However, an unbeaten 108-run stand for the third wicket offset that and tilted the DLS balance in the favour of the hosts.

Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock set the pace with a stable opening partnership worth 53 to get the highest chase of the series thus far underway, positively. However, both openers fell in the space of five overs to leave their team in a precarious position with the rain looming and strong winds blowing away the sightscreen.

At 88 for 2 when weather interrupted play, South Africa’s chances looked bleak. But a 55-minute delay meant no overs were lost, yet. The rain threat, though, wasn’t over and Hendricks came out with a clear plan to attack. While he picked up pace almost immediately after the break, du Plessis consumed a few dots, the pressure of which reflected in the cheeky single the South African skipper sneaked in the 21st over, with the asking rate having shot up to more than seven.

Hendricks added 27 runs to his tally off just 20 balls since the rain break to bring up his second ODI fifty. He was particularly harsh on the spin duo of Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim, hitting the former for sixes in his back to back overs and bringing up the fifty of his partnership with the skipper with the second one. Du Plessis grew in confidence once the runs started flowing and, sensing the pressure on Shadab, joined the fun by slamming the leggie for a third six. The skipper’s back to back boundaries off Amir off half-volleys, in the 28th over, were instrumental in the shifting of momentum in the home team’s favour. If Hendricks had quickly moved on to scoring at run-a-ball, the skipper wasted little time in catching up, transferring the pressure on Pakistan by bringing the century of their stand in just 98 balls.

Rain made its second appearance when South Africa were on 187 for 2. Fortunately for the hosts, the third-wicket stand already had them seven runs ahead of the DLS par score when the covers were being brought on for the second time in the evening. Just as the play was set to resume, about 45 minutes later, rain returned to wash away all of Pakistan’s chances of a win.

Earlier in the day, South Africa were made to pay a heavy price for their sloppiness in the field that saw five catches being dropped. All five men went on to contribute significantly to Pakistan’s 317 in their own way - Imam with his anchor role and fifth ODI century, Babar Azam and Mohammed Hafeez with their quickfire half-centuries while Shoaib Malik and a promoted Imad provided late fireworks.

South Africa’s new-ball bowlers started well after Pakistan opted to bat first in pursuit of the series lead. The pitch remained the best for batting so far, and yet Fakhar Zaman failed to break free from his wretched form. After six innings of sub-20 scores in the Tests, his dry run in the ODIs stretched to third successive game as he top-edged one off debutant Beuran Hendricks.

However, Imam dug in and stitched two contrasting partnerships - worth 132 with Babar (69) for the second wicket and worth 84 with Hafeez (52) for the third - to set up Pakistan’s best score in the series.

 Having lost an early wicket, Imam dropped anchor while Babar played the aggressor in the partnership.

The pair completed their respective half-centuries and then upped the ante by fetching regular boundaries and running hard between the wickets to convert the ones into twos.

It took the experience and variations of Dale Steyn to break the threatening partnership as Babar attempted to play a slower delivery across the line and was hit flush in front of his stumps. The Pakistan No. 3 wasted a team’s review on his way back, but Pakistan picked up right from where he left courtesy Hafeez’s breezy knock. The veteran was dropped on 10 and made use of the opportunity by striking consistently at run-a-ball. Hendricks came in the firing line as Hafeez danced down the track to slog one over cow corner that raised the team’s 200. He went to bring up a 44-ball fifty - his 36th in ODI cricket before Phehlukwayo intercepted a lofted shot at mid-on for an absolute stunner to cut short the celebrations in the Pakistan camp.

Imam, meanwhile, went past 1000 ODI runs upon reaching 90, and with Malik settling in at the other end, went on to raise his fifth century in the format. However, once again, South Africa hit back with the wicket of the set batsman in the same over - Tabraiz Shamsi opening his account on this occasion.

However, with spinners in action, Pakistan promoted the left-handed Imad who added a quick 52 runs with Malik for the fifth wicket in just five overs. Like all his predecessors, Imad too was gifted a life when on 21, and then went on to inflict more damage by taking 15 off Steyn’s ninth over. The wickets of Malik and Hasan Ali also failed to deter Imad, who finished with an unbeaten 43 as Pakistan stole 91 runs in final ten. All for Hendricks and du Plessis to undo with a counter-attacking stand, the catalyst for which was notorious weather.

 

Scorecard

VPAKISTAN:

Imam-ul-Haq c van der Dussen b Shamsi 101

Fakhar Zaman c Rabada b BE Hendricks 2

Babar Azam lbw b Steyn 69

M Hafeez c Phehlukwayo b Rabada 52

Shoaib Malik c BE Hendricks b Rabada 31

Imad Wasim not out 43

Hasan Ali c Miller b Steyn 1

Sarfraz Ahmed not out 6

EXTRAS: (w 12) 12

TOTAL: (6 wkts, 50 overs) 317

FOW: 1-4, 2-136, 3-220, 4-250, 5-302, 6-305.

BOWLING: DW Steyn 10-0-43-2, BE Hendricks 9-0-50-1, K Rabada 10-0-57-2, AL Phehlukwayo 10-0-71-0, T Shamsi 9-0-75-1, RR Hendricks 2-0-21-0.

SOUTH AFRICA:

Q de Kock run out 33

H Amla c Azam b Hasan Ali 25

R Hendricks not out 83

Faf du Plessis not out 40

EXTRAS: (lb 1, w 5) 6

TOTAL: (2 wkts, 33 overs) 187

FOW: 1-53, 2-79.

BOWLING: Mohammad Amir 7-0-36-0, Shaheen Shah Afridi 6-0-37-0, Imad Wasim 8-0-34-0, Hasan Ali 6-0-33-1, Shadab Khan 6-0-46-0.

TOSS: Pakistan

UMPIRES: Adrian Holdstock, Gregory Brathwaite

TV UMPIRES: Paul Reiffel

RESERVE UMPIRE: Bongani Jele

MATCH REFEREE: Ranjan Madugalle