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All-round Shadab helps Pakistan stay in Semi-Final Race

Shadab Khan's all-round show - a 22-ball 52 with the bat followed by 2 for 16 with the ball - helped Pakistan beat South Africa by 33 runs (DLS Method) in a rain-marred encounter at the Sydney Cricket Ground, on Thursday, to keep his side in contention for a semifinal berth.

In a nutshell:

Electing to bat, Pakistan's top order was blown away by the South African pacers, reducing them to 43 for 4 in 6.3 overs despite a 11-ball 28 blitz by Mohammad Haris, who had come for the injured Fakhar Zaman. However, Pakistan steadied their innings with a 52-run stand by Iftikhar Ahmed and Mohammad Nawaz before Shadab's blazing half-century powered Pakistan to 185 for 9.

South Africa lost two early wickets in the chase. However, Temba Bavuma's counter-attacking 19-ball 36 put South Africa ahead before Shadab's double-wicket eighth over seized the momentum back from them. A rain break after the ninth over, and the subsequent reduction in overs left South Africa needing 73 to win in five overs. In an attempt to score quickly, they kept losing wickets and were restricted to 108 for 9 in 14 overs.

What does the result mean?

It means that Pakistan and South Africa, along with India and Bangladesh, remain in contention for a semifinal berth. While India and South Africa only need to win against Zimbabwe and Netherlands respectively, Pakistan will have to beat Bangladesh and hope that either of India or South Africa lose their contest.

Why did Pakistan struggle early?

South African pacers, were yet again on point with using the conditions to their advantage. While Mohammad Rizwan was cleaned up with an incoming delivery from Wayne Parnell, Mohammad Haris's counter-attack in the second over put South Africa on the backfoot early. He slammed Kagiso Rabada for two sixes and boundary off successive deliveries, putting away his full delivery with as much ease as he countered his short balls. Even as Babar Azam was struggling from the other end to beat the in-field, Haris kept the attack going before being trapped legbefore by Nortje. His dismissal paved the way for a brief collapse, and in the next two overs, South Africa dismissed Babar - with Rabada taking a fine catch running behind - and Shan Masood - chipping to Bavuma at mid off - falling in the next two overs.

How did Pakistan revive their innings?

Nawaz and Iftikhar didn't really get going from the start. There were also a few lucky escapes with some misjudgement on the field. However, as the partnership flourished and a few loose deliveries were offered, especially by Tabraiz Shamsi, they were quick to latch on to it and stitched a 52-run stand in 39 balls before Nawaz was dismissed in a bizarre fashion. Looking to sweep Shamsi off a full delivery, he got an inside edge on to his pads and was adjudged legbefore. However, he wasn't looking at the umpire and attempted a run before being sent back by his partner to be run out.

Nonetheless, even as the partnership was broken, South Africa couldn't get the contest in their control. Shadab Khan counter attacked from the get go, and Iftikhar too joined in soon to hit some lusty blows - one of which was a 106-meter six. There wasn't a lot wrong the pacers were doing, especially operating with a wet ball. Nonetheless, it troubled the fielders, who were sloppy and dropped ample chances. With the ball skidding on, the batters too found it easy to play the big shots. Soon after Iftikhar brought up his half-century in 30 balls, Shadab reached the mark in 20.

Nortje and Rabada picked a few wickets in the death overs, but couldn't control Pakistan from posting a healthy total.

How were South Africa in the run chase?

Totally out of control. Shaheen Afridi struck twice in his first two overs to send back Quinton de Kock and Rilee Rossouw. However, the out-of-form Bavuma found stroke making easy. Along with Markram, he took down Haris Rauf for 20 runs in the fourth over, and treated him with as much disdain in his next over, carting him for two boundaries and a six. At the end of the seventh over, South Africa were comfortably placed at 65 for 2.

What happened after that?

Shadab Khan happened.

Off the first ball of his spell, he drew Bavuma ahead and induced an edge to the 'keeper with some and turn and bounce. Two balls later, he clattered Markram's stumps with a googly. With rain still on, the double blow pegged South Africa far behind in the par score. Mohammad Nawaz bowled a tight over next to keep South Africa to 69 for 4 in 9 overs when rain halted play eventually.

What happened by the time play resumed?

Six overs were lost and South Africa were left chasing 142 in 14 overs, which meant they needed 73 runs in five overs. With David Miller injured and replaced by Heinrich Klaasen, it only slimmed down the possibility for South Africa. Even as the Pakistani bowlers used their variations expertly, they ended up conceding 25 runs in the first 10 balls, bringing down the requirements to 48 in 20. That's when the collapse started.

Klaasen got a top edge and was caught at short third, Wayne Parnell was trapped legbefore and Tristan Stubbs pulled a slower ball to fine leg. South Africa slipped and were eventually restricted to 108 for 9.

Brief Scores: Pakistan 185/9 in 20 overs (Shadab Khan 52, Iftikhar Ahmed 51; Anrich Nortje 4-41) beat South Africa 108/9 in 14 overs (Temba Bavuma 36, Aiden Markram 20; Shaheen Afridi 3-14, Shadab Khan 2-16) by 33 runs (DLS Method)

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