• Pakistan 308-7; South Africa 259-9. Pakistan win by 49 runs
• South Africa knocked out of World Cup
Let there be no further ambiguity about it: South Africa are out of the World Cup. They had been hanging on for some 18 days since losing a third straight fixture to begin their ill-fated campaign but a limp loss to Pakistan by 49 runs sealed their fate at last. By contrast, Pakistan, nearly as abject as the Proteas at times across their three losses, move on to Birmingham on Tuesday with hope. They need to run the table against New Zealand, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, but thanks to Haris Sohail’s exhilarating 89 and five wickets shared by Mohammad Amir and Shadhab Khan, their route to the final four remains.
Doubly so due to Amir’s one-day resurgence. The left-arm spearhead was not in the original World Cup squad, with just five wickets at an average of 92 since his brilliant Champions Trophy. But not only is Amir ( two for 49) back in the team, he is back to his best. His first delivery to Hashim Amla curved back the way that lives on in the mind’s eye from when he first exploded on to the scene. Shadhab (three for 50) was equally superb, duping Quinton de Kock (47), castling Aiden Markram (7) and ending Rassie van der Dussen’s (36) troubled stay to leave South Africa reeling at 189 for five.
As the dark clouds descended on Lord’s, Faf du Plessis’ side demonstrated how far behind the pace they are. The 308 for seven Pakistan posted was not insurmountable on a fresh pitch. South Africa’s batting suggested otherwise, allowing the required run rate to climb to the point where the game was in effect over in the 30th over when the captain top-edged Amir on 63. He was a member of the only partnership of any zest with De Kock, which ended 10 overs earlier.
It was also with 20 overs to go in their fielding innings that events took a turn for the worse for the Proteas. They started poorly with the ball after Pakistan won the toss, Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq adding 57 in the first 10 overs. But the introduction of 40-year-old Imran Tahir changed that, the former falling to a premeditated ramp and the latter taken spectacularly in the leg-spinner’s follow-through. Both made 44. The build continued through Babar Azam, but at a medium pace. When Mohammad Hafeez was trapped leg before by part-timer Markram from the final ball of the 30th over, Pakistan had advanced to 143 for three.
Enter Sohail. From the start, the classy southpaw was assertive: Du Plessis brought back his talisman Kagiso Rabada to burst open the middle order but Sohail instead drove him to frustration with an uppercut six. The No 5 was scoring with touch as much as muscle as the bowlers chopped and changed. Babar holed out for 69 when they had put on 81 in 68, the stand broken in the 42nd over. They were away.
When the meaningful damage was done in South Africa’s reply, it got ugly. Their last hope, David Miller, was bowled by teenage quick Shaheen Afridi, prompting a celebration nearly as elaborate as Tahir’s (two for 41) when he was twirling. Phelukwayo continued on admirably for an unbeaten 46 from 32 balls, watching on as Wahab Riaz bowled Morris, Rabada and Ngidi in quick succession, the chase closing meekly on 259 for nine.
The renewed optimism of Sarfaraz’s men will have a knock-on effect for England when they play Australia on Tuesday, also at Lord’s. If they can get straight back on the bike after their shock loss on Friday, it will make Pakistan’s late run irrelevant. If they cannot, this could yet turn into an interesting race to the end.