Captains Temba Bavuma and Babar Azam both described Fakhar Zaman’s 193 as an ’incredible innings’ after the Proteas won the second ODI against Pakistan by 17 runs.
JOHANNESBURG – Temba Bavuma’s first win as Proteas captain, much like his first match in the position, won’t easily be forgotten.
Bavuma played his part, with an intelligent innings of 92 off only 102 balls that helped set up South Africa’s ultimately victorious total of 341/6, but his is not the performance Sunday’s second ODI will be remembered for.
That honour goes to Fakhar Zaman, after what both Bavuma and his Pakistani counterpart Babar Azam, described as an “incredible innings,” that took Pakistan within 17 runs of South Africa’s total.
“He played an incredible innings, it’s the best that I’ve seen,” Bavuma said of Fakhar’s 193, that came off only 155 balls and included 18 fours and 10 sixes.
“(Fakhar’s) innings was one of the best I’ve seen,” said Babar, who had produced a stunning hundred himself to help Pakistan win the first match of the series last Friday. “Fakhar was fantastic, it’s unfortunate he couldn’t finish it. While Fakhar was playing, I had hope. I think if he had a few other batsmen stay with him, we would’ve won. Fakhar was doing it all alone.”
Pakistan were 85/4 in the 15th over and South Africa had complete control, after a fine performance with the bat earlier, after Babar chose to bowl upon winning the toss. Bavuma’s was one of four half-centuries for the home team, while the South African captain also shared partnerships of 114 for the second wicket with Quinton de Kock and 101 for the third with Rassie van der Dussen.
“I found it quite hard for any kind of strokeplay,” Bavuma said of the pitch. “Batting with Quinny the focus was just on getting any kind of partnership. We just wanted to spend time at the crease, with the belief that it would get easier, but I don’t think it did get easier, we just got accustomed to the wicket.”
It was a marked improvement from the first match, where South Africa had slumped to 55/4 and needed Van der Dussen and David Miller to rescue their innings, by grafting hard.
On Sunday, that same pair showed a different side to their games – Van der Dussen made 60 off just 37 balls hitting six fours and four sixes, while Miller, scored his fastest ODI 50, taking just 27 balls, hitting three fours and three sixes.
“We’ve got guys who can play dual roles in our batting line-up. Someone like Rassie did show that, when called upon, when the table is set, he can come in and put bowlers under pressure, David Miller did as well.”
Fakhar kept Bavuma on his toes throughout Pakistan’s innings. “To chase 340 singlehandedly was always going to be a tough ask,’ said the Proteas captain. “We kind of knew that we weren’t too far from winning the game. From speaking to the bowlers, it was a matter of being clear about what our plans were, and then it became a matter of execution.”
Bavuma also highlighted Fakhar’s run out in the final over by Aiden Markram as an illustration of the kind of chances his side needs to take more often in the field.
Markram ran Fakhar out with a direct hit from the long off boundary, with the Pakistan batsman thinking the throw had gone to the non-strikers end. Whether that had anything to do with De Kock gesturing that the ball was going there and not to the batsman’s end wasn’t entirely clear.
According to Law 41.5.1, it is regarded as “unfair” for a fielder to deliberately distract a batsman leading to him being run out, and the fielding side can be penalised with five runs. That didn’t happen on Sunday and Fakhar, also didn’t seem too perturbed.
“The fault was mine as I was too busy looking out for Haris (Rauf) as I felt he’d started off a little late from his crease, so I thought he was in trouble,” said Fakhar. “The rest is up to the match referee, I don’t think it’s Quinton’s fault”
“To be honest it was my own fault,” he added later.