Shadab Khan’s all-round excellence helped keep alive Pakistan’s slim T20 World Cup semi-final hopes as they overcame South Africa by 33 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method.
Pakistan had beaten South Africa in all three of their previous meetings in the competition but in a must-win showdown at the Sydney Cricket Ground they lurched to 43 for four midway through the seventh over.
Their position could have been even worse as Iftikhar Ahmed was dropped on two, but he went on to make 51 off 35 balls before Shadab’s onslaught of 52 from22 deliveries catapulted Pakistan to 185 for nine.
Three of Shadab’s four sixes came off Anrich Nortje, two of them in the same over. But Nortje then took the wicket of the all-rounder followed by Mohammad Wasim with his next ball to finish with figures of four for 41.
From the start of their innings, South Africa were under pressure. Shaheen Shah Afridi snared Quinton de Kock for a duck then Rilee Rossouw for seven, while Shadab had Temba Bavuma caught behind for 36 off 19 balls and bowled Aiden Markram through the gate for 20 off 14.
After nine overs, South Africa had slipped to 69 for four, at which point a shower reduced their target to 142 from 14 overs. From there, they lost wickets at regular intervals to close on 108 for nine, as Afridi finished with three for 14.
This, though, was South Africa’s first defeat of the campaign, and a win over the Netherlands will guarantee them a top-two Super 12s finish and a semi-final place.
Pakistan’s prospects of the last four rest on them seeing off Bangladesh, as well as relying on South Africa – or India, who take on Zimbabwe at the MCG – to lose. All three games are on Sunday.