JOHANNESBURG: Pakistan’s stand-in captain Shoaib Malik lamented his batsmen’s inability to finish games after his side slumped to their first defeat in 12 series after they lost the second Twenty20 International against South Africa at the Wanderers on Sunday.
Malik, filling in for the suspended Sarfraz Ahmed, saw his side fall seven runs short to South Africa’s total of 188-3 despite seemingly on course for victory at one stage at 147-1 with Babar Azam in fine form. But after Babar (90) fell in the 17th over, Pakistan crumbled to finish at 181-8 which also included Hussain Talat’s 55.
The loss was reminiscent of the first game of the series which Pakistan lost by six runs.
“Whoever is the set batsman, it’s his responsibility to finish the game,” said Malik after the loss. “Finishing crucial games is very important and that is what we are lacking. We saw that in the last game as well.”
He however lavished praise on Babar who single-handedly kept Pakistan in the game, sharing a 102-run stand with Hussain.
“Babar is a class player, especially when you’re playing on good pitches, against a good attack, you have to play cricketing shots, which he has done, and has been successful,” said Malik. “The same applies to Talat.
“The game shouldn’t have reached the 20th over, but that happens. The ball was new when the set batsmen were batting and when the new batsmen come in, it’s hard for them to get going.”
Malik added that he felt the bowlers should have restricted South Africa to 160, while also praising Imad Wasim and Shaheen Shah Afridi for the way they bowled in the powerplay.
“Imad Wasim is an exceptional talent and he has been performing for our team. We need a couple more guys to perform like Imad has been performing,” said Malik. “If someone is bowling almost three overs in the powerplay and containing the batsmen and if the batsmen take him on then they have a chance of taking wickets that means they are an exceptional talent.
“We have Shaheen Shah Afridi also, who bowled brilliantly today. It’s just that you need three to four bowlers doing well for your team. That’s when you end up chasing a maximum of 160.”
MILLER HAILS PHELUKWAYO
Pakistan were also not helped by Usman Shinwari going for 28 runs in the final over of the South African innings.
“That over changed the game,” Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur acknowledged. “We didn’t bowl according to our plans, and in that over, we bowled in the area for [South African stand-in captain David] Miller to exploit.”
Miller, who ended up with 65 for the man-of-the-match award, praised all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo’s preparations to bowl in the death overs.
The 23-year-old all-rounder was tasked with defending 15 runs in the final six balls with a well set and dangerous Pakistan captain Malik still at the crease.
The youngster, who now has a copious amount of experience beyond his years in international cricket, held his nerve to guide the Proteas to an unassailable lead in the three-match series, with the final match set for SuperSport Park in Centurion on Wednesday.
Phehlukwayo conceded eight runs in his final six balls, which saw he also pick up the wickets of Malik and Hassan Ali, with an impressive display of variations in his bowling to finish with impressive figures of 3-36 in his allotted four overs.
Miller spoke highly of Phehlukwayo’s preparations in training sessions, with him paying particular focus to bowling at the death.
“It doesn’t get any better than that last over from Andile. As a player and a bowler, you prepare for moments like that and you long for moments like that. It’s so rewarding when you achieve those kinds of results after preparing for them,” said Miller.
“Credit must go to Andile, he has been preparing really well and he has grown from strength to strength. In the One-Dayers, he bowled incredibly well, and he has just continued with that momentum and maturity. He has a level head and has a lot of variations and bowled really well tonight.”
Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2019