IMRAN TAHIR continued his outstanding tour to the United Arab Emirates when he picked up his third four-wicket haul in the 50 overs format as the Castle Lager Proteas beat Pakistan by 68 runs in the third ODI at Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
This result gives the Proteas a 2-1 lead in the five-match series with two matches to be played.
Imran took three wickets in three overs including the key wicket of Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq to put their opponents on the back foot after they had been given a runaway start by the opening partnership of Mohammed Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad.
The latter took the attack to the new ball attack of Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe in the first six overs when Pakistan scored 43 runs.
The introduction of Dale Steyn to the attack brought a remarkable turn-around as he immediately dismissed Shehzad with the result that Pakistan only scored 18 runs in their next six overs.
Thereafter Imran took charge with the support of the seamers and there was no way back for Pakistan into the match in spite of some spirited hitting by their tail-enders.
Tsotsobe produced one of the outstanding spells in the history of South African one-day cricket, taking 1/5 in 6 overs (two maidens) in his second spell.
The Proteas will also have been heartened by their batting performance that saw them go past 250 for the first time in 11 ODI’s. There were three good partnerships of 77 off 93 balls for the second wicket between Quinton de Kock, who replaced the injured Graeme Smith, and Faf du Plessis; 70 off 92 balls for the fourth wicket between AB de Villiers and JP Duminy; and 61 off 63 balls for the fifth between Duminy and David Miller.
Five members of the Proteas top order scored between 34 and 64 runs and hopefully at least one of those will go on to put a very substantial innings on the scoreboard.
The Man of the Match award went to Faf du Plessis for his 54 – his first half-century against Pakistan in this format – plus two outstanding catches in the 30-metre circle.