DURBAN — Proteas captain AB de Villiers said his team would go to Benoni with confidence despite succumbing to a three-wicket defeat to Pakistan on Thursday that levelled the five-match series at 2-2.
Hashim Amla slashing wildly and getting caught behind off the first ball of the match set a bad tone for the entire encounter. Durban was looking forward to seeing its son‚ who had amassed runs all over the world‚ make a bagful of them on home soil. It did not happen.
Colin Ingram was welcomed to the crease with the perfect in-swinging yorker in the second ball by Muhammad Irfan as South Africa struggled at 0/2 in two balls.
Graeme Smith — adding further questions about his place in the squad with a fourth consecutive failure — walked across his stumps and Junaid Khan bowled him out.
"We were hoping to finish off the series here in Durban‚ but it wasn’t to be‚” De Villiers said.
"I’m not happy with the fact that we lost but I’m proud of the way we fought back at the end. It is a characteristic of a really strong and resilient team.”
When Farhaan Behardien was caught behind with the score on 38‚ Pakistan had cornered the Proteas into a position where one more loss of a wicket would expose their long tail and spell the end of the contest.
Miller survived a dropped catch and review to make his highest one-day international score‚ 67‚ under the guidance of captain courageous‚ De Villiers.
De Villiers was again the anchor of another century partnership‚ following up on the record third-wicket stand he shared with Amla in Johannesburg last Sunday.
The skipper played simple but effective strokes that kept the scoreboard moving as the repair job intensified.
He and Miller knocked the Pakistan spin trinity of Muhammad Hafeez‚ Ajmal and Shahid Afridi all around the park.
Miller grew confident while Pakistan became anxious — 38/4 in the tenth over had become 151/4 by the 33rd.
But Miller tried to paddle a turning ball from Ajmal that trapped him in line with the stumps.
De Villiers followed him back into the dugout four overs later. Having driven Ajmal through the covers in the previous ball‚ he tried to sweep the next one but only managed to edge behind to the wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal on 75.
The Proteas hobbled to 234/9.
"I thought we did a massive job for the team to get a decent total. Unfortunately I got out at a very bad time‚ which probably cost us 20 runs‚ which would have been really handy at the end‚” De Villiers said.
The Proteas’ defence started on a controversial footing when Pakistan opener Hafeez was given run out for blocking De Villiers’s attempt at the stumps by running across the pitch.
Soon Pakistan were reduced to 18/2 when Miller held onto a fine catch to remove Akmal‚ who tried to slice Lonwabo Tsotsobe through point.
It looked like the comeback was on after Younis Khan chopped a Kleinveldt delivery onto his stumps during the bowler’s first over as it seemed Pakistan were having as torrid a start as the Proteas.
But a steady and controlled 153-run fourth-wicket stand between Imran Farhat and Misbah-ul-Haq took the game away from the South Africans.
South Africa’s bowlers were not bowling a line that would give them a chance to take wickets and precious catching chances were dropped.
Even hitman Afridi’s early dismissal couldn’t prevent Pakistan from taking the decider to the fifth match in the yo-yo series at Willowmore Park‚ where fit-again paceman Morné Morkel will be expected to start. © BDlive 2013