• South Africa v Pakistan, 3rd ODI, Johannesburg

SA take series lead over Pakistan

The Report by Firdose Moonda
March 17, 2013
South Africa 343 for 5 (Amla 122, de Villiers 128) beat Pakistan 309 (Afridi 88, Hafeez 57) by 34 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Placement was a hallmark of Hashim Amla's century © AP

South Africa were pretty and effective in pink as they took the series lead in a thriller at the Wanderers. But they almost saw red as Shahid Afridi scored his first half-century since February last year to keep Pakistan in the game well into its latter stages.

Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers shared a record third-wicket stand of 238 and scored at 7.84 to the over to set Pakistan a massive target before South Africa's bowlers used variation to stub out any chance of a successful chase.

After taking a bruising the field, with the third seamer Wahab Riaz conceding 93 runs, the most number of runs by a Pakistan bowler in an ODI, they needed someone to bat through. Mohammed Hafeez appeared the man up for the task with an aggressive half-century, but middle order wobbles meant it was up to Afridi to bludgeon the team home and he almost did.

To begin with, at 26 for 2, having faced 48 dot balls in 10 overs, it did not look as though South Africa would post a 300-plus score. It took 14 balls before they recorded their first run and both Graeme Smith and Colin Ingram grew impatient with the difficulties of contending with extra bounce from Mohammad Irfan and movement into the right-hander from Junaid Khan.

Hashim Amla was given out lbw off Junaid's second ball but it was found to have pitched just outside leg on review. That was one of the lifelines given to Amla, the other came when he was dropped on 36, edging to point after a somewhat shaky start.

Amla had de Villiers' boundless energy to keep the run-rate moving while he settled in and when he did, Pakistan were left to rue their generosity. De Villiers showed his intent as he arrived at the crease when he broke a boundary drought that had lasted 36 balls, and he did not stop there.

Misbah-ul-Haq saved Saeed Ajmal until the half-way point in the innings, and de Villiers and Amla tucked in. They brought out a range of shots as eyecatching as the pink kit they were wearing and a reminder of why they are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the world. They had it all: sweeps, reverse-sweeps, lofts, pushes, glances and cuts, all expertly timed and sprinkled with delicate touches.

De Villiers twirled his wrists to beat point and third man and moved across his off-stump to ramp Wahab over short-fine. He fell in the process but never lost control of the shot. His back-to-back sixes off Hafeez, a slog sweep and then a smash over extra cover were arguably the best of his innovative knock. His century came off 87 deliveries.

Amla's was also scored at better than a run a ball, his taking 99 balls. Placement was his hallmark as he peppered the covers with beautiful drives. He mixed that with aggression, evident in his smack off Afridi over long-off. His footwork, especially his dance across the offstump to hit on the on-side, remained unmatched for its quality.

Smart stats

  • Hashim Amla's century is his 11th in ODIs and second against Pakistan. He has now scored 3411 runs at an average of 58.81 and strike rate of 92.18.
  • Amla's average of 58.81 is the highest among batsmen with 3000-plus ODI runs. His strike rate is also seventh on the list.
  • AB de Villiers' 128 is his third-highest score in ODIs and his second century against Pakistan (14th overall). It is also the highest score by a wicketkeeper captain in ODIs.
  • The 238-run stand between Amla and De Villiers is the highest ever for South Africa. It is also the highest third-wicket stand in ODIs.
  • The partnership run-rate (7.84) is the highest ever for South Africa and the eighth-highest overall (200-plus stands). It is also the highest run-rate for a 200-plus stand against Pakistan.
  • South Africa's 343 is their second-highest total against Pakistan in ODIs. Their highest (392) came in Centurion in 2007.
  • Pakistan have now lost on four occasions despite scoring over 300 while chasing. Only India (six defeats) have lost more often after scoring more than 300 in the second innings.
  • Shahid Afridi's 88 is his 34th half-century in ODIs. The strike rate of 183.33 is his second-highest for a fifty-plus score against South Africa.
  • The number of sixes hit by Afridi (7) is his joint fourth-highest in an innings. Only three other batsmen have hit more sixes in an innings against South Africa.
  • The match aggregate of 652 runs is the second-highest in Johannesburg (highest is 872 runs) and the fourth-highest in a game in South Africa.
  • The number of runs conceded by Wahab Riaz (93) is the highest ever by a Pakistan bowler in ODIs. The previous highest was 92 by Naved-ul-Hasan in Centurion in 2007.

As the stand grew and the pair threw caution to the wind, they both fell. Amla was caught at extra cover and de Villiers top-edged to midwicket after bringing up the 300. Their dismissals would have done nothing to lift Pakistan, though. Faf du Plessis promptly recorded the most expensive over of the innings when he dispatched Wahab for 20 runs and his cameo ensured Pakistan would have a big battle on their hands.

They stuttered from the get-go when Nasir Jamshed gave away his wicket, chipping a good length, slower ball to mid-off.

Kamran Akmal was promoted up the order again, a move that brought some success. He pouched on width from Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Steyn's short ball. There was still a degree of circumspection to his and Hafeez's approach but they scored fairly quickly for the 13 overs they were together.

They accumulated 82 runs and found the boundary 13 times, Hafeez hitting back to back sixes off Robin Peterson to bring up his half-century. Hafeez and Kamran took Pakistan to three runs short of a 100 inside 17 overs before Akmal tried to upper cut a Ryan McLaren slower bouncer but edged behind.

Hafeez retreated into a shell once Younis Khan arrived and eventually the frustration boiled over. He holed out to mid-on off Robin Peterson, where Steyn, who has dismissed him five times all told on the tour, was waiting. South African celebrations were wild as they thought they had removed the biggest threat.

But there was another to come. Afridi showed some of his boom boom in the first ODI in Bloemfontein but brought the rest to Johannesburg. None of the seamers executed the yorker Allan Donald promised they had been practicing and offered Afridi length, which he lapped up. He cleared the boundary, over mid-wicket and long-off, four times to get South African nerves jangling as he brought up a half-century off 31 balls.

Misbah's dismissal did not stop him, if anything, it only spurred him on. Despite carrying a bruised thumb after being hit by Steyn, he swatted four more boundaries before inside-edging onto his stumps off a McLaren low full toss on 73. Replays showed it was a no-ball.

Afridi made a mockery of McLaren's free-hit delivery, smoking him for what could be the biggest six seen at the Wanderers. The ball landed on the roof of the stand at the Golf Course End and then rolled over it.

In the next over, Afridi was dropped by Smith at deep extra cover but his luck eventually ran out. Tsotsobe still missed the yorker length and offered a full toss, which Afridi hit to long-off where McLaren took the catch. He checked for a no-ball because of the height but the delivery was legitimate and an entertaining knock ended with Pakistan still needing 100 runs to win.

It was expected to be a bridge too far but Wahab came close to crossing it. He batted for seven overs with Saeed Ajmal, putting on 38 runs to set up a final assault. When Ajmal was caught at mid-off, Wahab kept going, placing his shots well and finding gaps.

Junaid Khan also abandoned him and it was up to Irfan, who had earlier left the field with an upset tummy, to hang on until the end. But it was Wahab who could not. He was yorked by Kleinveldt, who finally got it right, at the start of the 49th over to end a spirited contest.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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