Pakistan hit back to level the series


Not even a brilliant rear-guard effort from JP Duminy could prevent Pakistan from claiming a six-run victory at Newlands to square the two-match T20 international series 1-1.

<b>Not even a brilliant rear-guard effort from JP Duminy could prevent Pakistan from claiming a six-run victory in Cape Town to square the two-match T20 international series 1-1.</b>

After posting a highly competitive 176/4 in the first innings thanks largely to a superb partnership between Mohammad Hafeez and Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi led the bowling effort with three wickets as Pakistan successfully defended their total and picked up a much needed victory against a South African side that has been all too dominant against them.

The visitors won the toss and chose to bat first, looking to level the series after rain upset their game earlier in the week.

The Proteas called on spinner Aaron Phangiso and batsman AB de Villiers, dropping Lonwabo Tsotsobe, while Imran Tahir made way for David Wiese.

After a fairly sedate start that saw openers Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad both dismissed relatively cheaply, captain Hafeez and wicketkeeper Akmal combined to show what a dangerous force Pakistan can be, racking up 102 runs in just 53 balls between the eighth and the 17th overs.

Hafeez contributed 63 off 41 deliveries before Dale Steyn finally forced the error, with De Villiers waiting calmly at mid-on to catch a ball that had been sent high into the sky.

As good as the Pakistani duo were, South Africa's bowlers also performed poorly, offering up too many wides and just generally poor deliveries that Akmal and Hafeez were only too happy to send the boundary with alarming regularity.

Spinner Phangiso got an early breakthrough, but then got pasted for 11 runs an over, while Morne Morkel and Wayne Parnell also had bad days at the office, giving away more than nine runs an over each.

Hafeez' departure did slow the scoring down, however, with the arriving Afridi unable to get into his rhythm until the final few deliveries when two fours rescued his strike rate somewhat.

Akmal was eventually dismissed too as Steyn picked up his second and finished with respectable figures of 2/29 – in sharp contrast to most of his fellow bowlers.

The by-now fairly formidable opening pair of Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla set about the run chase in typically decisive fashion to get South Africa off to another quick start, but Afridi would prove to be the man of the hour for Pakistan.

The oftentimes controversial performer came on in the eighth over, immediately dismissing De Kock before accounting for South African captain Faf du Plessis in his next over and the highly dangerous De Villiers in his third.

It would prove to be a telling triple strike, slowing the scoring down on each occasion and making the home side start all over, and even though Duminy gave it his best shot in the latter half of the innings, first alongside Amla and then David Miller, it proved too little too late as South Africa finished their innings with six wickets left in hand, but also six runs shy of the required total.