A first trip to Lord’s for this World Cup and a must win match for both teams. Pakistan won the toss and captain Sarfraz (or Sarfaraz depending on how many A’s you’re going for) elected to bat.

The opening pair, Imam and Fakhar settled well and had reached 35 after 5 overs, the second highest score in 5 overs in this World Cup. South Africa pulled them in a little, Fakhar survived a catch appeal from Tahir, after much toing and fringe the replays showed the ball had touched the ground before Tahir’s fingers.

However, it almost felt like Fakhar had grown tired of batting, he went for what proved to be a daft shot from the bowling of Tahir and was caught by Amla, a soft catch he would always take. Pakistan were 81 for 1, Fakhar made 44 from 50 balls.

Tahir made up for the non-catch as he also despatched Imam, taking a great catch, low down from his own bowling. His celebration, as wild as always, will do him some damage at some stage! Imam was out for 44 from 58 balls, and Pakistan 98 for 2 after 20 overs

Hafeez joined Babar, He hit a Tahir ball for a huge 6, then missed the next ball. Tahir, a highly emotional player went up for an LBW appeal and very quickly persuaded his captain to review, du Plessis wasn’t anywhere near the action but went with Tahir’s thoughts. The ball was missing the stumps, so appeal lost! Hafeez also survived a dropped catch from de Kock, one you’d really expect him to take!

A bowling change brought Aiden Markram on, very strangely that took a while because someone forgot to stop the music! A ridiculous situation with the players standing round and the crowd dancing.

Hafeez had used all his lives, after surviving the Tahir appeal he was trapped LBW by Markram, who isn’t the best of bowlers, for 20 from 33 balls. Pakistan were 143 for 3 after 30 overs.

Haris Sohail was next in, taking the place of Shoaib Malik who hadn’t had the best tournament and who’d been involved in some controversy over an alleged night out in Manchester before he was out for a Duck against arch rivals India.

Pakistan were 156 for 3 after 32 overs. Babar and Haris batted well together and put on 81 before Babar skied a Phelekwayo ball to Ngidi who was a safe pair of hands. Babar was out for 69 from 80 balls and Pakistan were 224 for 4 in the 42nd over.

Imad Wasim was up next, he’d batted really well against India, pretty much showing a few of the batsmen how to do it! He and Haris put on the 2nd fastest 50 partnership in the tournament, squeezing out every possible run. With 3 overs remaining Pakistan were on 287 for 4.

It took a great catch from Duminy, on as a sub, from the bowling of Ngidi to take the wicket of Imad, he’d scored 23 from 15 balls. With only 2 overs left Wahab came to the crease rather than Pakistan’s captain!

Wahab scored 4 from 4 balls but Ngidi sent both Wahab’s stumps and bails flying on the first ball of the final over. Pakistan were 304 for 6. That brought Sarfaraz ,as he was today, in.

Haris was out on the penultimate ball of the match, he’d made 89 from 56 balls, a really superb innings. It’s crazy he hadn’t played before today. Shadab came in for the final ball and punched a single. Pakistan finished their innings on 308 for 7.

Hafeez opened the bowling for Pakistan and very nearly had a wicket with his second ball. Wahab missed the opportunity of catching de Kock however, teh first of far too many dropped catches!

Amir was next up, bowling from the pavilion end, he was turned down for an LBW om his first ball, but convinced it was hitting he persuaded Sarfaraz to appeal and sure enough! OUT! Amla was gone for 2! South Africa were 4 for 1 in the second over.

A small irony that I’d spoken to some South Africa fans behind me about how sporting the Pakistan fans were towards Tahir, I felt he’d have been booed by England fans for the claimed non catch. 2 lads with them shouted no ball as Amir bowled that wicket taking ball. Poetic justice methinks.

South Africa used another life up when Faf du Plessis hit a Shaheen ball hard in the direction of Shadab, the catch would’ve been amazing, but it wasn’t to be.

De Kock and du Plessis found their form, both are top class batsmen, in need of runs. They built a partnership of 87, Pakistan were in need of a wicket. I thought Sarfaraz’s use of his bowlers was spot on in this match.

Shadab brought on to bowl, tempted de Kock, he didn’t get enough on the ball and hit it to Imam. The catch was checked, in common with the Tahir ‘catch’ with a soft signal of out. The replay showed the catch was clean and de Kock was out for 47. South Africa were 91 for 2 in the 20th over.

Aiden Markram joined his captain. He didn’t last too long, Shadab struck again, bowling him for 7. South Africa were 103 for 3 in the 24th over. A wicket maiden for Shadab, well bowled!

It was a day to lose reviews, Sarfaraz was sure du Plessis had nicked a ball from Imad, the review told a different story.

Amir ‘dropped’ a very difficult opportunity, but Sarfaraz didn’t miss the sky high hit from du Plessis from the bowling of Amir! A great innings, he scored 63. South Africa were 136 for 4. Amir – a bowler who makes things happen!

In fact he dropped a catch in his next over, he looked to have had it but, as his elbow hit the floor the ball bounced out. He had a good shout for a catch for Sarfaraz later in the over, but with no review left the umpire’s decision was final.

South Africa’s 150 came up in the 33rd over. Chris Morris had joined Van Der Dussen at the crease.

Amir and Wahab May well have had words after the game, as Wahab had 2 catches dropped in 2 balls, firstly by Sarfaraz then by Amir, again. That may well give Amir more understanding when catches are dropped from his own bowling, he’s had many dropped over the years and understandably can be touchy to say the least.

A change of bowling brought a catch that was taken, A Shadab ball for Van Der Dussen was caught by Hafeez, both he and Sarfaraz went for the ball, but Hafeez claimed it. 36 for VDD and South Africa were 189 for 5 after 39.4 overs. Miller survived an LBW decision in the same over after the review showed he’d hit the ball.

However Miller had his stumps obliterated by Shaheen in the next over. He was out for 31 and South Africa were 194 for 6 in the 42nd over. Their 200 came up in the 43rd over. This wasn’t fast enough and South Africa had lost too many wickets.

A change of bowler from the Nursery End saw Wahab clean bowl Chris Morris, he’d scored 16 and South Africa were 222 for 7 in the 45th over.

South Africa’s bowlers must’ve been thrilled to see they had to face Wahab and Amir. Rabada, who can hold a bat was clean bowled by Wahab for 3. Ngidi fell to the same fate, bowled Wahab for 1. South Africa were 246 for 9 and Imran Tahir was the last man in. Phelekwayo had come in at 7 and finished on 46 from 32 balls, Tahir hit a single and South Africa finished on 259 for 9. A win for Pakistan by 49 runs.

It was great to see and hear so many Pakistan fans at Lord’s, some of the stewards looked almost shell shocked, but in a good way. The fans in green know how to create an atmosphere! I confess to leaping out of my seat many times, especially when Amir was taking wickets, I just can’t help myself!

South Africa can go no further in this World Cup, Pakistan still have a chance, they go on to Edgbaston to face New Zealand, followed by Afghanistan at Headingley before heading back to London to play Bangladesh at Lord’s. I’m editing this in Birmingham before tomorrow’s match between Pakistan and New Zealand, England have lost to Australia, so, Game On!


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