Cricket – Pakistan back in the race as rain, fan factor help their cause

Sarfraz Ahmed hails fan factor as Pakistan beat South Africa in Champions Trophy

Pakistan edged South Africa by 19 runs on Wednesday to keep alive their Champions Trophy hopes as rain continued to play havoc with the tournament.

After an embarrassing defeat against India, Pakistan resolve to put it behind produced a dominant bowling performance to subdue the Proteas to keep their hopes alive in the tournament in Birmingham.

The outfield at Edgbaston under covers because of rain.

Sarfraz Ahmed revealed the partisan Pakistan crowd at Edgbaston may have had some influence in their stunning Champions Trophy victory under the Duckworth-Lewis method.

“That is a feeling we miss, not playing in Pakistan. Maybe that was a difference, the crowd was supporting us and that’s why the players were boosted.

“I think credit goes to the crowd, as well. They support us very much, I think,” Sarfraz said.

Sarfraz added: “I think the difference was our bowling and fielding.

Hasan Ali produced a disciplined bowling display that allowed Pakistan to restrict South Africa to 219 for eight wickets in their 50 overs. Pakistan were 119 for three in reply after 27 overs when rain stopped play.

The match at Edgbaston was abandoned two hours later, as the rain persisted, to hand Pakistan their first points of the tournament and leave them with a chance to go through to the semi-finals if they beat Sri Lanka in Cardiff on Monday in their last group game. Pakistan had lost to India in their opening match on Sunday, suffering a crushing 124-run defeat as they chased a rain revised target.

South Africa, who were the top ranked one-day team going into the tournament, now face a tough fight with India at the Oval on Sunday if they are to advance.

South Africa, Pakistan and Group B leaders India, who take on Sri Lanka in their second match on Thursday, are all tied on two points. The top two teams from each group progress to the semi-finals.

Hasan Ali took two wickets in successive balls on his way to figures of 3-24 off eight overs while Junaid Khan and Imad Wasim also contributed with two wickets each.

“We bowled in the right areas and our fielding was much improved,” said Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed. David Miller toiled to keep South Africa’s batting from not imploding further as Pakistan took regular wickets to shackle an impressive batting line-up.

Miller finished not out on 75 off 104 balls after a dogged innings that included a 48-run partnership with Kagiso Rabada for the eighth wicket.

South Africa suffered two ‘golden ducks’ with captain AB de Villiers dismissed with his first delivery for the first time in his ODI career, slashing the ball to Mohammad Hafeez at backward point. Wayne Parnell also fell first ball when he was clean bowled by Hasan Ali.

Morne Morkel came on as first change to remove both of Pakistan’s openers in his second over and reduce Pakistan to 41-2 in their reply. Debutant Fakhar Zaman went for 31 and was followed two balls later by Azhar Ali for nine.

Morkel had Hafeez caught in the deep for a third wicket but by then Pakistan had accelerated the run rate and gone ahead of South Africa on the Duckworth/Lewis method.

“We were outplayed by a better team. We came out with a good attitude in the field but just came up short,” said De Villiers.

“We know what is required now against India and we’ll have to up our game to get past them.” Inclement weather has produced two ‘no result’ matches and interrupted others with a 20 percent probability of rain for Thursday’s India v Sri Lanka showdown in London, according to forecasters.

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