Another World Cup and another disappointing exit for South Africa as they lost to Pakistan by 49-runs at Lords.
Pakistan brought in Haris Sohail into the team and he made the difference with the bat, scoring 89 runs off just 59 balls to take Pakistan to a formidable 308/7 in 50 overs, a total which was always going to take a special effort to chase, and South Africa did not have that.
After winning the toss, Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed had no second thoughts about batting first, especially after the backlash he and the team received for choosing to bowl first and losing to arch-rivals India in the last match.
Imam-Ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman got Pakistan off to a great start as they put on 81 runs before Imran Tahir, a Pakistani-born leg-spinner dismissed both to become South Africa’s all-time highest wicket-taker in World Cups.
Babar Azam and Mohammad Hafeez then formed another partnership before Hadeez was trapped in front by the part-time off-spin of Aiden Markram after scoring 20.
In came Haris Sohail and started positively as he played freely against a South African bowling that had no idea as to how to bowl to him.
Haris and Babar took the score past 200 as Babar brought up his half century.
But in an attempt to increase the scoring rate, the classy right-handed batsman was out for 69.
Sohail then linked up with Imad Wasim to take the score close to 300 before Imad was out for 23.
As wickets fell around him, Sohail held his end up and scored runs to take Pakistan past 300, something that seemed unlikely after 30 overs as Pakistan were 143/3.
In reply, South Africa lost Hashim Amla early, LBW to Mohammad Amir with the team score on four.
From there, Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis took time to form a partnership, even though the asking rate increased over seven.
De Kock tried to up the ante but played one shot too many, as he was out for 47, off the bowling of Shadab Khan.
The leg-spinner would soon have more success as he had Markram bowled for seven as South Africa’s chase started to go awry at 103/3.
Rassie van der Dussen, who has been one of the better players for the Proteas this tournament joined captain Faf du Plessis to try and steady things but then Sarfaraz brought back Amir into the attack to dismiss du Plessis, who top scored with 63.
David Miller and Van der Dussen tried to keep South Africa in the game but the required rate went well over 10 and that brought the wicket of Van der Dussen, who scored 36.
Even though Miller was dropped multiple times, he was eventually bowled for 31 by Shaheen Shah Afridi as South Africa were well and truly out of it at 192/6.
Chris Morris played a few big shots but was eventually bowled by Wahab Riaz, who delivered some fantastic fast and accurate yorkers to take his wicket along with the ones of Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi.
South Africa eventually finished on 259/9 with Andile Phehlukwayo not out on 36.
The win keeps Pakistan in with a chance for top four as they move up to seventh spot with five points from six games. Their next opponents are New Zealand, Afghanistan and Bangladesh and a win in all three games would take them to 11 points and could be enough for a spot in the semis.
Imran Tahir now has 39 wickets in World Cups, becoming South Africa’s all-time highest wicket-taker and surpassing Allan Donald, who took 38. Glenn Mcgrath leads the list with 71 wickets.
Pakistan 308 for 7 (Haris 89, Babar 69, Tahir 2-41) beat South Africa 259 for 9 (du Plessis 63, Wahab 3-46, Shadab 3-50) by 49 runs