Iftikhar, Shadab help Pakistan to set 186-run target for South Africa
Iftikhar Ahmed and Shadab Khan rescued Pakistan with a superb 82-run partnership as their side set South Africa 186 to win their crucial Twenty20 World Cup Group 2 clash on Thursday.
Iftikhar, who came to the crease with Pakistan in big trouble at 43-4 at Sydney Cricket Ground, scored 51 off 35 balls and Shadab 52 from 22 as Pakistan finished their innings at 185-9.
Pakistan, who must win this match to have any chance of reaching the semi-finals, looked heading for a certain early exit as the South African seam attack tore through the top order.
A win for South Africa propels them into the semi-finals.
But Iftikhar stayed firm, sharing a 52-run partnership with Mohammad Nawaz before he and Shadab took the South African attack apart, taking the score from 95-5 to 177-7.
South Africa started brilliantly, Wayne Parnell striking with the third ball of the match when Mohammad Rizwan chopped the ball into the stumps after trying to glide a ball through the gully.
Mohammad Haris, who came into the side for the injured Fakhar Zaman and was playing only his second T20 international, showed his intention immediately, smashing Kagiso Rabada for two huge sixes and a four.
He raced to 28 from 11 balls before being trapped lbw by Anrich Nortje with Pakistan 38-2.
The out-of-form skipper Babar Azam was next to go, caught in the deep by Rabada off Lungi Ngidi for a measly six to leave Pakistan reeling at 40-3.
The Pakistanis looked low on confidence and they were rocked further when three runs later Shan Masood chipped a Nortje slower ball to Temba Bavuma at mid-off.
But Iftikhar and Nawaz rebuilt the Pakistan innings until wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi made the key breakthrough when he trapped Nawaz lbw for 28.
Nawaz appeared to have got a bottom edge, but he didn’t review the decision and South Africa were back on top at 95-5 after 13 overs.
But Iftikhar and Shadab then launched a magnificent counterattack — to the delight of the boisterous Pakistan fans — as a light drizzle started to fall over the SCG.
The innings ended in a blur of catches, not all successful, as Pakistan put up a competitive total.