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The Electronic Telegraph 2nd Super Six Match: Pakistan v South Africa
Scyld Berry - 5 June 1999

Record falls as South Africa buck trend

It was another lowish-scoring match on another cool day in conditions made for pace bowlers yet again. For a change though there was an exciting finish, which saw South Africa beat Pakistan in this Super Six match with an over to spare, but leaving both countries well on the way to the semi-finals with four points each.

South Africa's match- winner was once again Lance Klusener, who was both physical strength and mental calmness personified as he hit his way home in the gathering dark. The ball had to be changed towards the end of South Africa's innings, as it had been when Pakistan were bowling against Australia at Headingley last Sunday, and the official explanation was that the ball was dirty. But Klusener's striking was clean as could be.

Jacques Kallis and Shaun Pollock had provided some sort of momentum after another of South Africa's weak starts, but on his arrival at 135 for six in the 37th over Klusener had plenty of work to do if he was to win his fourth man-of-the-match award in six games. Fortunately the run-rate required of South Africa had not gone beyond seven, so he had time to get his eye in before wielding his enormous club.

Pakistan's bowlers began to drop short and Klusener pulled three sixes, not just off the quick bowlers but Saqlain too. Spin has been his weakness, but not here, as he waited patiently for the ball to sit up before punishing it for its laxity of length. A target of 66 off 10 was brought down to 27 off four, 18 off three, then merely nine from two, at which moment Mark Boucher mowed a six himself off Saqlain.

A little record had to be broken though before the finishing line was reached. The previous record sequence without being dismissed in one-day internationals was 395 runs by Javed Miandad of Pakistan. With two runs to win, and having scored 394 since his last dismissal, Klusener launched himself at Saqlain off the front foot and skied the offbreak above extra-cover, who let it slip through his hands and let the batsmen scamper two. Simultaneously Klusener had pushed himself and his team over the finishing line.

South Africa had beaten Pakistan in their previous 12 one-day meetings, stretching back into one of the murkier periods of the latter's history, but this match was never one-sided. Pakistan's total was just above par in conditions which were friendly to swing bowling all day, thanks to some superlative late acceleration from Pakistan's wicket-keeper/ batsman Moin Khan, the fastest scorer in this World Cup after the Australian Tom Moody.

Until Moin mowed and flicked and carved, it was one long struggle for Pakistan's batsmen. Allan Donald does not often swing the ball out appreciably but he did yesterday, and his pace was only eclipsed by Shoaib Akhtar's opening burst, which flashed meteorically across the ground and picked up Herschelle Gibbs and Hansie Cronje in a cloud of stardust.

Steve Elworthy, though, was again South Africa's most economical bowler, doing much the same mid-innings job as Azhar Mahmood later. Elworthy did not pitch too short as Kallis did: Lancashire's coaching made sure of that. For in 1996, his season with Lancashire, Elworthy learnt to keep his head up in delivery, instead of dropping it and banging the ball in short of a length as he had learnt to do with Northern Transvaal.

Pakistan, however, had won their four qualifying matches in which they had batted first, and lost the only time they chased, against Bangladesh, so batting first this time was no great hardship - indeed they volunteered for it. Saeed Anwar managed some cuts (and was dropped by Jonty Rhodes at point off one), Ijaz Ahmed a pull or two, and Abdul Razzaq got himself out in frustration at his inability to play some big shots. But no big shots were to be made against such high-calibre bowling until Moin had played himself in and engineered the plunder of 54 runs from the last five overs.

Donald was Moin's especial fancy. In one over of his, Moin shovelled one four, swept a six as if Donald was bowling offspin, then walked across his stumps and helped the ball fly between the two long-legs for four more.

No Pakistani innings would be complete however without a run-out involving Inzamam-ul-Haq. He comes from a landlord's family in Multan, through which the Indus flows, and he takes his cue from the river at the height of the dry season. This time though he was not at fault, except for failing to ground his bat after passing the popping crease.

Before this match there was virtually no difference, in the World Cup overall, between teams batting first and those batting second: the side batting first had won 16 times, the side batting second 15 times. But often the under-dogs of Scotland, Bangladesh and Kenya were sent in first to be dispatched quickly. Take away those games, and in the matches involving Test teams only a pattern does emerge: 10 of these games have been won by the side batting first, only seven by the side batting second.

South Africa immediately felt the extra pressure which afflicts target-chasers as their opening batsmen failed yet again, as they have done in every game except against Kenya and England. Gibbs forced loosely off his back foot to be caught at point; Gary Kirsten padded up to a ball which seamed in, not swung away as he expected, and Darrell Hair does not like people padding up.

Cronje stepped up to No 3 to make his batting presence felt, a game move considering that he does not instinctively move into line against the highest pace; and Shoaib's pace was the highest, clocked at 95 mph. Any quicker and Cronje's slash to third man would have carried for six.

On flat pitches South Africa's batsmen are formidable, individually and in their collective depth. On pitches where the ball moves around, as it did yesterday, Kallis is all too outstanding in the tightness of his technique. But he still needed Klusener to take over and, by bucking the trend against the team batting second, to power South Africa home.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk