x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Dale Steyn does not disappoint in ‘intensity’

South Africa paceman ripped through Pakistan's middle and lower order as he proved his captain again with a career-best 5-25 to lead his side to a 28-run win, writes Osman Samiuddin.

South Africa's Dale Steyn took five wickets in a miserly spell on Friday against Pakistan. AP Photo
South Africa's Dale Steyn took five wickets in a miserly spell on Friday against Pakistan. AP Photo

ABU DHABI // AB de Villiers said after the third ODI that Dale Steyn brings an unmatched level of intensity to a game, a game-changing level of intensity. As he ripped through Pakistan’s middle and lower order on Friday in Abu Dhabi, changing the game in two spells, he proved his captain right.

Steyn took a career-best 5-25 to lead South Africa home to an 28-run win and a deserved series triumph with a game still to play. That spell included the key wickets of the impressive debutant Sohaib Maqsood and then three in the 47th over, of Umar Akmal, Misbah-ul-Haq and Saeed Ajmal.

It was a vital intervention, for Maqsood’s sprightly 56 had promised a remarkable chase, by Pakistani standards at least. He had put on 88 with Misbah to build on a solid start before he lofted Steyn to mid-off.

“I’m very happy with the performance and happy to win the series tonight itself,” Steyn said. “Actually, I don’t know what I was doing in that [three-wicket] over, I was just trying to visualise my field, and AB was talking but all I could hear was just mumbling.”

That spell capped off another skilled batting performance. South Africa had looked in control from the moment Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla got them off to a smooth start. And though they occasionally stumbled, De Kock laid down the template for an old-fashioned anchoring innings, batting right through till the 43rd over, for an assured debut hundred.

On the sidelines, meanwhile, the heads of both boards agreed a deal for Pakistan’s short tour to South Africa later this month. The tour has materialised because India have cut short their tour of South Africa in December.

But both Haroon Lorgat, Cricket South Africa’s chief executive, and the Pakistan cricket chairman Najam Sethi, had to answer questions about the domestic turmoil they find themselves in. Lorgat is facing an ethics inquiry by his former employers, the International Cricket Council, and said it was personally “distressing” to be at the centre of it.

“I am not at all under any pressure,” he said. “I am blessed with a board that is supportive despite some of the false reports that have arisen, so I am not under pressure as long as I know the board supports me.”

Sethi’s future remains uncertain and hinges on a court decision in December. An ongoing legal case has prevented the board from implementing any long-term plans. “I am not allowed to take long-term decisions as per various court decisions, but we are hoping that it will come to a conclusion in December,” he said. “Until then it’s all on a literally ad-hoc basis.”

osamiuddin@thenational.ae

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