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Fakhar Zaman Batting Vs South Africa Champions Trophy 2017
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Pakistan 119 for 3 (Babar 31*, Morkel 3-18) beat South Africa 219 for 8 (Miller 75*, de Kock 33, Hasan 3-24) by 19 runs (DLS method)



Never mind the damp conclusion; this is Birmingham in June, what did you expect? The weather shouldn't detract from the fact that Pakistan pulled off an upset in the game of the tournament so far. It is a shame the contest wasn't able to carry on till its natural conclusion, because it could have been the day the 2017 Champions Trophy finally came to life. Instead, it was the day Pakistan ensured they remained alive, beating South Africa by 19 runs via the DLS method to complete a turnaround only they seem to be able to manage, and with inexplicable regularity.

Pakistan put on a vastly improved bowling display as they shackled South Africa's batsmen to restrict them to 219. It might have been nearer 150 when Pakistan got rid of six South African batsmen inside the first 30 overs for 118, but David Miller, so often required only to provide late firepower, showed his all-round batting credentials. He anchored the innings with an unbeaten 75 off 104 balls. Hasan Ali finished with 3 for 24.

It turns out you can open the bowling with two quality fast bowlers in England conditions, after all. Mohammad Amir and Junaid Khan were tight and disciplined, bowling to a plan, meticulous in ensuring South Africa's openers were not allowed width. Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock had to shuffle around to manipulate the ball past the inner circle, never quite looking as comfortable as they so often do. A superb opportunity to get a wicket was missed as early as the second over, with de Kock setting off for a suicidal single, and only Shoaib Malik's inability to hit the stumps spared him.

The seamers might have started well, but the spinners wounded South Africa. Imad Wasim - brought on inside the first Powerplay - removed Amla with his second delivery, the batsman missing his nudge off a straight ball.

De Kock joined him soon after. He had survived an lbw shout off Mohammad Hafeez as Pakistan failed to review an lbw call that would have been overturned, but he hadn't learned his lesson and missed a sweep off Hafeez. South Africa's innings went from shaky to all-out panic just an over later, when captain AB de Villiers slashed Imad Wasim first ball straight to backward point. Pakistan suddenly had complete control of the game.

Miller tried to take some control of the South African innings, stepping out to hit two sixes, but South Africa simply could not get partnerships going. Duminy and Parnell were victims of contenders for ball of the tournament, each pitching around off stump and tailing away. Duminy got an outside edge that carried to first slip, while Parnell could put no barrier between ball and off stump. South Africa were 118 for 6, and Pakistan were running through them.

Chris Morris gave Miller some company as South Africa looked to get as close to 200 as possible, but there were no signs of the ragged death bowling that had been a feature of Pakistan's performance against India. Mohammad Amir and Junaid Khan were unplayable at times, bowling reverse swinging yorkers almost on demand.

Miller was able to hold his side's innings together though. It was a small win in an innings where Pakistan had the upper hand almost from start to finish. Other than Morne Morkel's bowling, it was the only positive South Africa could cling to on a day even the most conniving spin doctor could struggle to describe as anything other than a disappointment for the world's top-ranked side.

Set 220, Pakistan approached the run chase the way modern teams have been doing all around the world, but coming from Pakistan, it still felt like a novelty. Fakhar Zaman was clearly given a job to do, but actually doing it against Kagiso Rabada and Wayne Parnell under gloomy skies on debut is altogether different. He was dismissive of any width, slashing the ball through the covers and behind point at every opportunity, and even creating width when there wasn't any to smash the bowlers square of the wicket either side.

But it's the nature of quick hitting that it is always likely to be ephemeral. Morkel, whose place in the side has been a subject of such debate of late, reigned in a galloping Pakistan. Both openers were dismissed in one over as the tall fast bowler exploited both his variation and the bounce he invariably seems to generate on every surface. That over was followed by 20 straight dot deliveries as South Africa neutralised Pakistan's flying start and came roaring back into the game. Morkel's opening spell reading 5-1-7-2.

Hafeez and Babar Azam were stuck with negotiating the sustained pressure the bowlers were putting on them by now, the renewed energy in the fielding side palpable. Both were hanging around without ever looking especially comfortable, and South Africa always seemed to be on the cusp of a wicket. That arrived, somewhat inevitably, with the second ball of Morkel's second spell, as Hafeez tried to pull one that grew too big on him, leaving Imran Tahir to take his second catch of the evening.

Rather than add pressure on Pakistan, that somehow relieved it, and what followed was their most free-scoring spell since the first six overs. Rabada and Morkel went for two boundaries each in their subsequent overs, and by the time rain intervened, Pakistan were 19 runs ahead on the DLS equation. That was good enough, on a day an unfancied Pakistan side had generally been exactly that.

Source © ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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