Pakistan opening batsman Fakhar Zaman’s astonishing innings of 193 could not prevent South Africa winning the second One-Day International by 17 runs in Johannesburg on Sunday.
Pakistan seemed to have no chance when they slumped to 205 for seven in the 38th over in reply to South Africa’s 341 for six at the Wanderers Stadium. But Fakhar’s assault took them to 324 for nine.
With only his team’s bowlers to keep him company, the left-handed Fakhar, who was on 97 when Faheem Ashraf was the seventh man out, went on all-out attack.
In all, he hit 18 fours and ten sixes in a 155-ball innings before being run out in the last over by a direct hit from long-off as he was trying for a second run.
With wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock seemingly gesturing for Aiden Markram to throw to the bowler’s end, Fakhar slowed down and was surprised when the ball hit the stumps at the batsman’s end when he was a metre or more short, ending his bold counter-attack.
“It was one of the best innings I have seen in my life,” said Pakistan captain Babar Azam.
“It was an incredible innings, probably the best I have come across,” said South African captain Temba Bavuma. “Everything he tried came off.”
Fakhar, who made a ODI double century against Zimbabwe in 2018, was named player of the match.
“I tried my level best,” he said. “That’s my game. The wicket was really good, the boundaries were very short and the run rate was going up. I was just hitting the ball.”
Fakhar admitted he was taken by surprise by his dismissal. “I was looking at Haris Rauf because I thought the run-out would be at his end. It was my own fault,” he said at the post-match press conference.
“The fault was mine as I was too busy looking out for Haris Rauf at the other end as I felt he’d started off a little late from his crease, so I thought he was in trouble. The rest is up to the match referee, but I don’t think it’s Quinton’s fault.”
South Africa’s win levelled the three-match series. The hosts will be without five of their Indian Premier League-contracted players for the deciding match in Centurion on Wednesday.
De Kock, Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller hit half-centuries after South Africa were sent in.
The South African innings was in dramatic contrast to their effort in the first match at Centurion, when they lost four wickets inside the first 15 overs, with Pakistan going on to win by three wickets off the last ball.
Early moisture in the pitch again made batting tricky but South Africa put together a succession of productive partnerships.
De Kock (80) and Aiden Markram (39) put on 55 for the first wicket before Bavuma (92) and De Kock added 114 for the second wicket.
It set a platform for Van der Dussen to hit a blistering 60 off 37 balls as he and Bavuma put on 101 for the third wicket.
Given the freedom to play his shots from the start, in contrast to his century in Centurion when he had to rebuild the innings, Van der Dussen hit six fours and four sixes. Miller slammed an unbeaten 50 off 27 balls.
Babar, who made a century in the first match, again looked in sublime form as he cruised to 31 off 33 balls after the early loss of Imam-ul-Haq.
But he was undone by the pace of Anrich Nortje, mistiming a pull shot off Nortje’s fourth ball.
Nortje followed up with two more quick wickets as Pakistan slipped to 85 for four.
Shadab Khan, Asif Ali and Faheem Ashraf offered brief support but the match looked to be well beyond Pakistan’s reach when Faheem was seventh out, with 137 runs still needed. But that was without reckoning on Fakhar.
(With inputs from AFP)