In the 1st ODI of the 5 ODIs between South Africa and Pakistan, the visitors won the toss, and South Africa everything after that, inflicting upon Pakistan a 125 run defeat.
After being asked to bat, South Africa posted a big total on the back of a third ODI hundred for Colin Ingram, at the venue where he got his first ton. It was a very important knock for the youngster as he looks to cement the no. 3 spot for the national ODI side. He was superbly supported by skipper AB de Villiers, who scored a rapid 65 in a 120 run stand which set the foundation for the hosts’ total of 315.
The Pakistani think tank’s decision will be questioned after fielding just two seamers and 4 spinners on a lively track at Bloemfontein. This cost the visitors dearly with Afridi and Malik leaking 81 runs of their 11 overs combined. AB de Villiers had boldly stated that his batsmen have learnt to play spin better than before and his statement was backed up very well.
The opening few overs were an indication that Umar Gul and Junaid Khan would be a handful for the Proteas and further put questions over Pakistan’s lineup. With both Gul and Khan going past the openers’ edges, it seemed a wise decision to bowl first. But once Amla and Smith had negotiated the early period, it got difficult to stop them as they scored with ease and freedom, hitting their straps very quickly.
The spinners could not find an immediate breakthrough and South Africa negotiated the second powerplay safely. It took a rubbish reverse sweep from Smith for Pakistan to get their first wicket caught behind and an equally atrocious slog sweep by Amla to bring about his downfall. This brought Ingram and AB, who promoted himself to no. 3, together and they shared the most important stand of the match. They found the gaps with ease and ran hard while also finding the ropes when needed. Both brought up their fifties in quick succession with AB looking in ominous touch, lofting Ajmal over covers and then dispatching a half tracker past fine leg. Ajmal though got his man with AB unable to clear short cover.
Faf du Plesses and Ingram kept the scoreboard ticking and after Faf fell playing the scoop, it was left to Ingram to lead his side to a big total. Farhaan Behardein, not known to be a big hitter, proved that theory wrong, taking on Junaid Khan and supporting Ingram to his 3rd ODI ton.
The Pakistani run chase was dotted with wickets. In spite of many let-offs in the field by a strangely slack South African unit, they weren’t able to capitalize. Jamshed and Hafeez took on debutant Kyle Abbot and a smart bowling change by AB, bringing Kleinveldt on, reaped rewards with Jamshed edging to slip. Du Plessis was guilty of dropping a dolly off Hafeez but the hosts got their man run out while backing up too far. It took an eternity for the third umpire Bowden to give the verdict but finally the correct decision was made and Hafeez was sent on his way.
With Younis Khan and skipper Misbah at the crease, the run chase showed some sense of stability and direction, with Misbah being aggressive and Younis supporting him well. But with Abbot and McLaren strangling them and quick runs needed, Younis drove at a wide one from Abbot and nicked to AB, handing the debutant his maiden ODI wicket. Misbah fell soon after, getting himself into a tangle, gloving one down the legside to the keeper. Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal didn’t provide too much resistance and departed trying to up the ante and score quickly.
Shahid Afridi tried to raise Pakistani hopes with some late assault, but it was too little too late, as successive strikes by Kleinveldt got rid of Gul and Ajmal. He came back in his next over to get rid of Afridi who tried one big shot too many to complete a victory as comprehensive as one would see.