LONDON: Africa’s World Cup hopes crumbled into dust as Haris Sohail smashed a rapid-fire 89 to help Pakistan secure a 49-run win at Lord’s on Sunday that kept their own chances of reaching the knockouts alive.
Sohail’s dominant 59-ball knock and a tidy half century from Babar Azam helped Pakistan reach 308-7, a total that South Africa never threatened to surpass.
South Africa captain Faf Du Plessis offered their only real resistance with a 79-ball 63 in another poor batting display from his side.
Wahab Riaz and Shadab Khan took three wickets each as Pakistan condemned South Africa to a fifth defeat of the tournament that left them languishing ninth in the 10-team table.
While Pakistan’s slim hopes of reaching the knockout stages stayed alive, South Africa, with three points from their opening seven matches, are unable to secure a spot in the top four – who all advance to the semi-finals.
“The biggest downside is we are not doing ourselves justice as a team. We are not playing the cricket we are capable of and that is extremely disappointing,” Du Plessis said.
Pakistan got off to a flying start with openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq hammering 29 off the first four overs, against a South Africa side who looked visibly dejected in the face of the early onslaught.
Yet the bleeding was stemmed as South Africa steadied and with the run-rate under control they began to threaten, as both openers departed for 44 to Imran Tahir while Aiden Markram claimed the wicket of Mohammad Hafeez for 20.
Azam picked up the pace with 69 off 80 balls before he was caught off the bowling of Andile Phehlukwayo to leave Pakistan on 224-4. Sohail took it up a notch adding 71 runs along with Imad Wasim for the fifth wicket.
Wasim made 23 before he was caught trying to whack Lungi Ngidi over the rope, and Sohail helped Pakistan past 300 before his innings ended when he was caught by Quinton de Kock off Ngidi in the final over.
Sohail had not played in the World Cup since Pakistan’s opening-match defeat to West Indies but fully justified his recall.
“Haris Sohail came in, he was hungry to play in the match and the way he batted was a turning point. You see (England’s) Jos Buttler play that type of innings so the way he played was fantastic,” Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed said.
South Africa’s chase got off to a woeful start as Hashim Amla was out lbw for two to Mohammad Amir in the second over and while De Kock and Du Plessis restored some order, they quickly fell behind the required run rate.
They added 87 runs for the second wicket before De Kock holed out in the deep on 47 off the bowling of Khan, who then bowled Markram for seven, leaving South Africa on 103 for 3 after 23.1 overs.
Their task became even harder when Du Plessis tried smashing Amir out of the ground but only succeeded in lofting the ball straight up in the air to give wicket-keeper Sarfaraz an easy catch and the bowler a 15th wicket of the tournament, the joint highest alongside England’s Jofra Archer and Australia’s Mitchell Starc.
A series of dropped or missed catches kept South African hopes briefly alive, but the wickets soon began to fall without a significant mark being left on the scoreboard.
Phehlukwayo (46 not out) hung around until the death but starts were frittered away with regularity as Rassie van der Dussen (36), David Miller (31) and Chris Morris (16) came and went before the tail was mopped up in the final few overs.