THE Castle Lager Proteas pulled off a sensational one-run victory over Pakistan at Sharjah on Wednesday to go 1-0 in the five-match ODI series.
It was the fourth time that the Proteas had won by such a narrow margin, the last occasion being when Charl Langeveldt took a hat trick against the West Indies at Bridgetown in 2005.
On this occasion the Proteas looked easily out of the picture as Pakistan needed 19 runs for victory with six wickets and 55 balls in hand at one stage. But they proceeded to lose their last six wickets for 17 runs off 31 balls.
This was largely the result of the combined efforts of Imran Tahir and Lonwabo Tsotsobe who took two wickets between them off successive deliveries and in all three wickets off eight balls with Tsotsobe being on a hat trick at that stage.
That opened the way to the tail and the innings was polished off by the combined efforts of Imran and Morne Morkel.
The match had a finish of incredible tension as the Proteas used up their review and also had a stumping attempt referred in Imran’s final over to last man Mohammed Irfan.
But the finishing efforts of the Proteas would not have been possible without the all-round form of Man-of-the-match Wayne Parnell. His maiden ODI half-century (56 off 70 balls, 6 fours and a six) enabled the Proteas to recover from 129/8 to 183 all out. His partnership of 52 for the ninth wicket with Tsotsobe (a career best 16 not out off 42 balls, 1 four and 1 six) was a South African record against Pakistan and also a ground record for Sharjah.
Tsotsobe deserves full credit for the way he supported Parnell and kept up his end.
Parnell then went on to take three of the first four wickets to fall in the Pakistan innings including the key one of their captain, Misbah-ul-Haq, to complete a superb all-round performance.
The disappointment for the Proteas will have been their disappointing batting performance that saw them lose their first five wickets inside 19 overs. Saeed Ajmal did major damage, having figures of 3/7 at one stage, and he and Shahid Afridi finished with combined figures of 7/67 in 19 overs.
Ajmal’s fourth and final wicket was his 150th in ODI cricket.