Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 July 2019

Cricket World Cup 2019: Pakistan snuff out South Africa's title hopes as Sarfaraz Ahmed lauds Haris Sohail

Proteas beaten by 49 runs at Lord's as Pakistan, buoyed by Haris' batting, keep alive unlikely bid to win trophy

Pakistan fast bowler Mohammed Amir celebrates taking the wicket of South Africa opener Hashim Amla on Sunday. Nigel French / PA Wire
Pakistan fast bowler Mohammed Amir celebrates taking the wicket of South Africa opener Hashim Amla on Sunday. Nigel French / PA Wire

Haris Sohail showed Pakistan what they have been missing by not selecting him, after his sparkling innings breathed life into Pakistan’s flagging Cricket World Cup campaign.

The left-hander was one of fall guys after Pakistan’s opening match thrashing by West Indies three weeks ago. He has not been spotted in the time since, but the side hardly exactly thrived in his absence.

Restored to the line up for the first match of the tournament to be played at Lord’s, where the final will take place in three weeks’ time, he turned the game against South Africa.

Haris made 89 in just 59 balls, to help Pakistan to an imposing total of 308-7 from their 50 overs.

In response, the Proteas crumbled in the face of fine bowling from the left-arm pace pairing of Wahab Riaz and Mohammed Amir, as well as the leg-spin of Shadab Khan.

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Wahab impressed swinging the ball against South Africa's tailenders, as he took 3-46.

Amir regained his place at the top of the tournament’s wicket-charts, as his remarkable return to form continued.

Shadab also had a fine outing, with 3-50, as the hapless South Africans finished 49 runs short.

“It is difficult when you have to sit out and wait your turn, but I knew if I was given the chance I could do well and perform for Pakistan,” Haris said, after he was handed the player-of-the-match award by Waqar Younis.

“When I went in, we had the plan that I had to build a partnership with Babar. It wasn’t easy but I build my innings, and it worked out.”

Sarfraz Ahmed, Pakistan’s captain, said Haris’ explosive innings - which contained three sixes and nine other boundaries - reminded him of England’s Jos Buttler.

All-rounder Haris Sohail top-scored for Pakistan against South Africa on Sunday. Mike Hewitt / Getty Images
All-rounder Haris Sohail top-scored for Pakistan against South Africa on Sunday. Mike Hewitt / Getty Images

“We tried some other combinations which was why he wasn’t in the team, but he was given a chance and scored runs,” Sarfraz said.

“Sometimes change is good for the team. We saw that with Haris today. The way he batted was the big turning point in the match.

“The way he batted in the last 20 overs, that is the sort of thing you see from Jos Buttler. The way he batted, I thought it was a fantastic innings.”

Defeat ended South Africa’s slim hopes of making the semi-finals. They have lost five of their seven matches, with one washout, and just the solitary success over winless Afghanistan.

The adverse results have been particularly harsh on Imran Tahir, the leg-spinner, who excelled again, against the country of his birth.

Tahir took 2-41 from his 10 overs, including a brilliant caught and bowled to dismiss Imam-ul-Haq, but his efforts were in vain.

“For me, the biggest downside at the moment is we are not doing ourselves justice as a team,” Faf du Plessis, the South Africa captain, said.

“We are not playing the kind of cricket we are capable of. That is extremely disappointing.

“Yes, we are playing against great teams at a World Cup, and we have all seen how crazy it is, with teams beating each other at different stages.

“But for me, the biggest disappointment is that we are letting ourselves down for the level of skill that is sitting in that dressing room.”

Updated: June 24, 2019 03:02 AM

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