Pakistan kept their slim T20 World Cup hopes alive by defeating South Africa by 33 runs in a dramatic rain-affected match at Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday.
After their initial target of 186 was reduced to 142 due to a rain delay, South Africa came out strong, needing 73 runs in just five overs.
The asking rate, however, proved too much for them, and they finished 108-9 at the end of a thrilling match.
Pakistan’s win has kept the hopes alive of advancing to the semi-finals; if they win their last match against Bangladesh and both India and South Africa lose their final games.
Pakistan seemed to be heading for an early exit from the T20 world Cup as South Africa’s bowling attack ripped the top order. But, Iftikhar Ahmed and Shadab Khan rescued Pakistan with the bat with a superb 82-run partnership.
Iftikhar came to the crease with Pakistan in trouble at 43-4 and scored 51 off 35 balls, while Shadab smashed 52 off 22 as Pakistan finished their innings at 185-9.
However, Iftikhar held firm, putting on a 52-run stand with Mohammad Nawaz before he and Shadab ripped apart the South African attack, taking the score from 95-5 to 177-6 and later taking two crucial wickets.
Pakistanis started well with the ball after finishing strongly with the bat, with Quinton de Kock chipping Shaheen Afridi to Mohammad Haris at midwicket for a duck on the last ball of the first over.
In his second over, Afridi dismissed the dangerous Rilee Rossouw for seven runs, caught by Naseem Shah on the third-man boundary, leaving South Africa 16-2.
South African captain Temba Bavuma looked in great form as he cruised to 36. He and Aiden Markram raised the score to 65.
But Shadab changed the game in his first over, catching Bavuma behind and bowling Markram through the gate one run later, leaving South Africa trailing 66-4.
Then the heavy rain forced the players to leave the field with nine overs remaining and kept Pakistan’s hopes alive for the World Cup semi-finals.
South Africa needed 73 runs in five overs when they returned, a target that proved too difficult.
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