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  • South Africa v Pakistan, 2nd ODI, Centurion

Pakistan draw level against South Africa

The Report by Firdose Moonda in Centurion
March 15, 2013 « FARE: Inter only facing a fine | Chartbeat test »
Pakistan 192 for 4 (Misbah 57*, Malik 35*, Peterson 2-52) beat South Africa 191 all out (Behardien 58, Peterson 44, Irfan 4-33) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Mohammad Irfan's four-wicket haul was chiefly responsible for restricting South Africa to a below-par total © Getty Images
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Pakistan's decision to include an extra pace bowler paid off as they levelled the series against South Africa in a rain-affected match, reduced to 44 overs a side, in Centurion.

Mohammed Irfan was chiefly responsible for dismantling South Africa's top order and contributions from all of the top six ensured Pakistan's chase was comfortable in the end.

South Africa lost the match when they slumped to 62 for 5, even though Farhaan Behardien and the bowlers gave them some chance of fighting back. Behardien stoically clambered out of trouble and featured in two important partnerships while achieving his career-best score but the total was still less than satisfactory. South Africa defended aggressively and it was not until the 33rd over that the contest was truly decided.

It was then that Shoaib Malik slammed four boundaries off Lonwabo Tsotsobe to seal the advantage Irfan had given them upfront. Irfan extracted significant bounce from the Centurion surface in an extended seven-over spell.

His incision began when he removed Hashim Amla and Colin Ingram in successive balls in the eighth over. Amla thrived briefly against the short ball but then inside-edged through to Kamran Akmal while Ingram was out on review, adjudged caught-behind by the third umpire even though Hot Spot did not confirm an edge.

The best example of the impact the extra bounce had on batsmen was in AB de Villiers' dismissal; he was undecided and edged to second slip. By the time Irfan had swooped on Faf du Plessis' leading edge, Graeme Smith's dismissal was already forgotten and South Africa were in some trouble. Smith did not look comfortable against the back-of-a-length approach and mistimed an attempted hook to gift Akmal another catch.

Behardien, who plays his domestic cricket at SuperSport Park, found himself in a situation that called for two qualities he is best known for: temperament and grind. He coped well against the spinners and managed not to get too tied down by lack of boundaries.

Between the 19th and 35th over, the rope was only breached three times, largely thanks to Mohmmad Hafeez. He rushed through the overs and limited batsmen's scoring options but Behardien and Ryan McLaren were still able to put on 44 before the latter was trapped lbw.

South Africa went one better, though. Berhardien and Peterson put on 67 runs in 18 overs and although the going was slow, they worked on strike rotation until Gul was brought back. Peterson opened up against him, with some risk, and also notched up his highest ODI score.

With the storm brewing and frustration building for Behardien, he tried to clear midwicket off Hafeez. He was caught on the boundary a ball before the Highveld thunderstorm arrived to lash his home ground and cause a delay of almost two and a half hours.

On resumption, South Africa resorted to blocking and Pakistan conceded only 14 runs more runs, bowling the hosts out with four balls remaining.

With a manageable required-rate of 4.36 facing them, Pakistan's openers were more concerned with survival than speed, especially Hafeez. Dale Steyn, who dismissed him four times in the Test series, was back in the attack and Hafeez treated him with due respect. McLaren dropped a catch offered by Hafeez off Kyle Abbott, but bowled the next over and made up for his blunder when he had Nasir Jamshed caught at slip.

Akmal was promoted to No.3 and it seemed a good decision. After a streaky opening, he built a stand with Hafeez and the pair scored briskly to push Pakistan along. Hafeez eventually fell to his nemesis as he chipped Steyn to midwicket. Steven gave him a five-finger sendoff to remind him of the number of times he has taken his wicket on this tour.

South Africa were given a small opening when Kamran tried to smack Peterson over midwicket but the ball rolled onto his stumps. At 69 for 3, they hoped to force an implosion but Pakistan's experienced hands were up for it. Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq batted together for most of the 10 overs in which Pakistan did not find a boundary and coped with good lengths from Abbott and McLaren. Misbah eventually broke the pressure with a six over long-off.

Their partnership was worth 46 and looked good to go on for more but Younis fell to a full toss. After taking six off the first two balls of Peterson's seventh over, he swept one straight to Amla at deep square leg.

The match was in the balance again with Misbah and Shoaib Malik forced to lie low until Malik was ready to pounce. Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who was brought back for a second spell, slid two down the leg side, and Malik helped himself to boundaries. Then he got two more, to third man and point off short and wide balls and the winner was evident.

It still needed Misbah and Malik to apply final rites and the captain did so in particularly impressive fashion. He dispatched Peterson over midwicket for a six and and four and brought up a half-century to see Pakistan home and take an even contest to the Wanderers on Sunday.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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