Hashim Amla’s 27th ODI century went in vain on Saturday as Imam-ul-Haq (86) and Mohammad Hafeez (71*) played crucial roles in guiding Pakistan to victory in the first match against South Africa at Port Elizabeth. While chasing a modest total of 267 on a slow track, the visitors won the game by five wickets with as many balls to spare. With this victory, Pakistan now lead the 5-match series 1-0.

The Proteas won the toss and opted to bat first. Debutant Rassie van der Dussen (93) and Hashim Amla (108*) stitched a magnificent 155-run stand for the second wicket to propel the team to a competitive total.

In return, Pakistan may have had an early jolt with Fakhar Zaman’s (25) dismissal in the 9th over but they had a better start than the hosts. This sudden blow didn’t affect Pakistan’s momentum as Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam set a perfect launch pad for Pakistan’s victory. The duo added 94 runs for the 2nd wicket and kept the asking rate in check. However, Reeza Hendricks’ spin broke the partnership in 28th over only to allow the next wrecker-in-chief, Mohammed Hafeez to enter the field.

Meanwhile, Shoaib Malik fell prey to Andile Phehlukwayo with 49 needed which somewhere pushed Pakistan into the panic zone. Sarfraz Ahmed was struck in front and soon, the asking rate raised to seven an over.

The track didn’t offer much to the home team. Towards the end, the Proteas managed to pluck a couple of wickets but failed to stop Hafeez’s hammering. The Pakistani veteran didn’t hesitate to play in his own way. He timed the ball better, regularly found the boundaries and kept on releasing the pressure. He missed hitting the winning runs but he levelled the score with the four, hit on the last ball of the penultimate over.

With a calm head on his shoulders and in the company of Shadab Khan, he took the match home, smashing an unbeaten 71 as Pakistan chased down their 267-run target with five balls to spare.

Brief Scores:

South Africa 266-2 in 50 overs (H. Amla 108 not out, H. van der Dussen 93)

Vs

Pakistan 267-5 in 49.1 overs (Imam-ul-Haq 86, Mohammad Hafeez 71 not out) Result: Pakistan won by five wickets