IN a low-scoring match dominated by the bowlers, the second ODI in Dubai on Friday was won by Pakistan by 66 runs, the five match series now standing at 1-1.
The Castle Lager Proteas would have been more than satisfied with their situation at halfway – they confined Pakistan to 209 batting first – but their second half was a procession as they bombed to 143 all out.
The Proteas’ batsmen struggled to get to grips with the spinners, in particular, and, as in the Pakistan innings, significant partnerships were notably lacking. JP Duminy (25) showed glimpses of intent before being caught at first slip, while Wayne Parnell (21) looked similarly capable of wresting the initiative away from Pakistan before he nicked off to the ‘keeper.
Ryan McLaren knuckled down for his 29 not out but there was too much to do after he ran out of partners.
Best of the bowlers for Pakistan were Mohammad Irfan (10-0-53-3), Saeed Ajmal (8-1-15-2) and Shahid Afridi (5.4-0-26-3). Mohammed Hafeez bowled ten tidy overs for only a single wicket, although it was a prize scalp – that of the in-form David Miller for 11.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, Pakistan stumbled to 209 all out, despite the customary late flurry from Afridi, who scored 26.
Their inability to build big partnerships was largely due to some accurate bowling and a great effort in the field from the Proteas, winners of the first ODI by one run. Imran Tahir was steady (10-1-28-1), Morne Morkel (10-0-38-3) bowled with impressive pace, despite being given some late stick, but it was McLaren who was the chief destroyer in taking four for 34.
His skiddy pace and savvy use of cutters and the slower ball meant he was a real handful against the brittle Pakistan middle-order as they plunged from 112 for three to 209 all out. With his international reputation growing by the day, McLaren thoroughly deserved his four-wicket haul.
Throw in a run out and Pakistan were never able to gain the run-scoring rhythm required to post a truly significant total and finally nosedived to a disappointing total two balls short of the fiftieth over.
Opener Ahmed Shehzad top-scored with 58, going to his fifty with a flick through the leg-side off JP Duminy for a single. The third wicket partnership worth 60 between Shehzad and Misbah ul-Haq was the biggest of the match for Pakistan. It was broken by none other than McLaren, who is fast perfecting the art of not only taking wickets but taking important ones.
Finally, though, the scorecard, tells the most incriminating tale. After Shehzad, there were three twenties and three players reached double-figures (four if you count extras). It didn’t appear to be good enough but it was.