Brilliant centuries and a world record stand from AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla were just enough to offset an extraordinary innings from Shahid Afridi as South Africa beat Pakistan by 34 runs in the third Momentum ODI at the Wanderers on Sunday.
Amla (122) and De Villiers (128) added 238 for the third wicket to lead South Africa to a formidable total of 343-5 and the tourists looked out of the game at 132-5 in reply until Afridi launched a blistering counter-attack with five fours and seven sixes in an innings of 88 from just 48 balls in Pakistan’s reply of 309 all out.
Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Ryan McLaren claimed three wickets apiece and, vitally, combined to dismiss Afridi as McLaren held onto a mistimed drive at long off with Afridi in full flight. Moments earlier McLaren had bowled Afridi on 73 but overstepped. The resultant free-hit delivery was a wide but the next ball resulted in one of the biggest sixes ever seen at the Wanderers when Afridi hit McLaren over the Unity Stand and onto the golf course.
Faf du Plessis also cashed in on a perfect batting surface and ideal conditions to smash 45 from just 19 deliveries to turn a large total into an unassailable one.
Graeme Smith (3) and Colin Ingram (17) were dismissed by Mohammad Irfan leaving Amla to consolidate with De Villiers in an hour of careful batting. But as the runs mounted they accelerated in emphatic fashion to record their 11th and 14th ODI centuries respectively.
Amla sliced a catch to extra cover just one run after the partnership had passed the third wicket record of 237 set by Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar at the 1999 World Cup in England. His 122 was scored from 113 balls and included nine fours and a six. He enjoyed two moments of good fortune, the first before he had scored when he successfully reviewed an lbw decision for Junaid Khan and the second on 36 when Mohammad Hafeez dropped him at backward point.
De Villiers continued to display his unique range of improvisations and reached 128 from just 108 balls with a dozen fours and three sixes before top edging a slog sweep to deep mid wicket.
Tsotsobe struck early when Pakistan began their daunting run chase when Nasir Jamshed sponned a drive to mid off but Kamran Akmal (30) added 82 with the aggressive Hafeez before McLaren had him caught behind.
Robin Peterson claimed the next two wickets with Hafeez holing out to Dale Steyn at long off and Younis Khan dragging a wide delivery onto his stumps. When Tsotsobe had Shoaib Malik caught at mid off the match seemed to be heading for an early finish. But Afridi changed all that.
The fourth match of the series is a day game in Durban on Thursday.