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Misbah stars as Pakistan square series

754   //    21 Mar 2013, 22:35 IST

DURBAN, South Africa (AFP) –

Misbah ul-Haq of Pakistan hits a six on March 21, 2013 in Durban

Misbah ul-Haq of Pakistan hits a six during the ODI match between South Africa and Pakistan at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on March 21, 2013 in Durban, South Africa. Pakistan beat South Africa by three wickets.

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq led his side to a three-wicket win over South Africa in the fourth one-dayer Thursday, setting up a series decider in the final match in Benoni on Sunday.

Misbah made 80 and Imran Farhat scored 93 as Pakistan chased down South Africa’s total of 234 for nine with eight balls to spare.

Misbah and opening batsman Farhat shared a 153-run fourth wicket partnership after Pakistan had been struggling at 33 for three after 11 overs.

The early wickets included that of Mohammad Hafeez, who was given out for obstructing the field in the second over.

He changed direction and was hit on the leg by a throw from South African wicketkeeper and captain AB de Villiers, who was throwing at the stumps at the bowler’s end when Hafeez was several metres out of his ground.

Hafeez was only the fourth batsmen — and the third Pakistani — to be dismissed for obstructing the field in one-day internationals.

Pakistan fans celebrate at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on March 21, 2013 in Durban

Pakistan fans celebrate at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on March 21, 2013 in Durban, South Africa. Pakistan beat South Africa by three wickets.

Pakistan’s fast bowlers struck early, with Mohammad Irfan giving the side what Misbah described as a “dream” start when he dismissed Hashim Amla and Colin Ingram with the first two balls of the match.

Fellow left-armer Junaid Khan followed up with the wickets of Graeme Smith and Farhaan Behardien as South Africa slumped to 38 for four after winning the toss.

Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal took three crucial middle order wickets as South Africa struggled after winning the toss, despite a fourth wicket stand of 115 between De Villiers (75) and David Miller (67).

“Everyone gave 100 percent,” said Misbah, who was named man of the match.

He praised the fast bowlers for putting South Africa under pressure, saying: “We needed that sort of start against a quality side,” he said.

Ajmal took three for 42 in ten overs, while Irfan claimed three for 46 in nine and Junaid took three for 45 in nine.

Misbah said Ajmal had been outstanding.

“When there is a little bit of turn and a little bit of bounce he is really a key man,” he said.

He also praised Farhat, who was making his first appearance of the series: “He batted very well, we needed someone just to stay at one side.”

De Villiers and Miller gave the home side hope of making a good total before Miller missed a sweep against Ajmal and was out after a career-best innings. Miller’s 67 was scored off 77 balls and he hit seven fours.

Miller’s dismissal came nine balls before the batting power play and South Africa’s hopes plummeted when De Villiers was caught behind when he was adjudged to have gloved a sweep against Ajmal.

The off-spinner had Ryan McLaren caught in the deep as the power play yielded just 17 runs for the loss of two wickets.

De Villiers said South Africa had fought back well after being under pressure because of their poor start. He said he looked forward to the match in Benoni.

“Hopefully it will be a great clash between two very good ODI teams,” he said.

Misbah and Farhat started their stand slowly, with the fifty partnership taking 82 balls, but they picked up the pace, helped by the introduction into the South African attack of part-time leg-spinner Ingram, whose first over in international cricket cost 17 runs, including two sixes and a four by Misbah.

They had been together for 187 balls when Misbah, who has yet to hit a century in 113 one-day international innings, holed out to deep midwicket when 49 runs were still required. Misbah made his runs off 93 balls with seven fours and two sixes.

Farhat finally fell with nine runs needed after facing 144 deliveries. He hit eight fours and a six.

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