World Twenty20: Pakistan fightback stuns South Africa

 

Umar Akmal and Umar Gul led a superb fightback as Pakistan snatched a two-wicket victory against South Africa in a thrilling opening Group 2 match of the World Twenty20 Super Eights.

Despite chasing a modest 134 for victory, Pakistan looked destined for defeat as they slumped to 76 for seven in the 15th over, needing 58 runs off the final 30 balls.

However, Akmal and Gul joined forces to turn the game on its head in an eighth-wicket partnership worth 49 in just 4.3 overs.

Man of the match Gul provided much of the momentum as he smashed three sixes and two fours in a 17-ball 32 before falling to the final ball of the penultimate over.

That left Pakistan needing nine off the last over and Akmal clubbed a Morne Morkel full toss for six off the second ball before Saeed Ajmal sealed the victory with a guided four off the fourth.

Akmal finished unbeaten on 43 off 41 deliveries, having also struck four other boundaries to go with that maximum.

The triumph leaves Pakistan at the top of Group 2 ahead of this afternoon's match between Australia and India.

South Africa were earlier limited to 133 for six after suffering a poor start in Colombo.

They lost Hashim Amla (six), Richard Levi (eight) and Jacques Kallis (12) as they struggled to 28 for three after six overs, before JP Duminy and AB de Villiers led a recovery.

Duminy put on 38 for the fourth wicket with Farhaan Behardien (18) before adding 44 with captain De Villiers to help South Africa into three figures before both fell in the closing overs.

The Proteas' total looked below par, and Pakistan were quickly making in-roads into their target as captain Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Nazir put on a rapid 24 for the first wicket.

However, South Africa hit back in emphatic fashion with three breakthroughs in seven balls.

Paceman Dale Steyn made the first, having Nazir caught behind by De Villiers for 14, before spinner Robin Peterson struck twice in his first over, bouncing back from being smashed for six off his opening delivery by having Hafeez (15) and Nasir Jamshed (nought) stumped.

That was the start of a collapse that saw Pakistan in all sorts of trouble but, just when it appeared as though South Africa were cruising to victory, Akmal and Gul combined to dramatic effect.

PA

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