ICL: Indian Cricket League

Rain forces resumption of semi-final on Saturday


A monsoonal shower during the Pakistan run-chase forced the semi-final to be put on hold and the players will return on Saturday to resume the contest with Pakistan needing 166 runs to win in 28.1 overs with eight wickets in hand. There were two interruptions during Pakistan’s run-chase: the first came in the 13th over, forcing the target to be cut from 261 to 252 off 47 overs, and the second downpour in the 19th over brought another halt, with the game seven balls short of the necessary 20 overs to produce a result. Pakistan ended the evening on 86 for 2 off 18.5 overs, and needed to be 91 for 2 after 20 to progress to the final.

It was perhaps fair that the game wasn’t decided on a 20-over D/L result for South Africa had batted determinedly to post a sizable 260 for 8 off their 50 overs, which wasn’t interrupted by a drop. Their batting has improved as the World Cup has progressed and a strong performance from the top order - JJ Smuts, Riley Rossouw and Jonathan Vandiar scored half-centuries - had set up a tough run-chase. Pakistan had also responded confidently: they lost two early wickets which put them behind the D/L requirement but Shehzad Ahmed and Umar Amin had added 69 runs for the third wicket to being them on par.

The pair began the recovery after Wayne Parnell struck a double blow in his second over: Umar Akmal spooned a catch to mid-on and Shan Masood had his leg stump uprooted by a ball that swung past his defences. Pakistan were struggling at 17 for 2 but Shehzad unfurled an array of attacking straight drives to maintain a high run-rate. The shots that stood out, however, were two lofted flicks off Matthew Arnold. Another wicket would have put Pakistan severely behind the D/L requirement but Shehzad, who also had a back problem, and Amir went about building the momentum seamlessly. However, they are still 166 runs away from the final and have the night to plan the run-chase.

South Africa, on the other hand, will be relieved that they can come back tomorrow because the slippery ball wasn’t easy to control - they bowled 10 wides - and the wet conditions would have hampered their defence after their batsmen performed impressively. Ray Jennings, South Africa’s coach, had warned the opposition against underestimating their batting - which had shown susceptibility against spin in earlier matches - and they backed up his confidence with their best performance of the tournament.

The pitch did nothing for the fast bowlers in terms of swing and seam movement, even though the skies were overcast, and South Africa batted sensibly. A slow run-rate at the start of an innings had been the feature of matches at the Kinrara Oval but the openers Smuts and Pieter Malan scored at nearly five an over. Smuts, a tall right-hand batsman, used his power to drive through cover and made room to hit the ball past mid-off to build the initial momentum.

Adil Raza, who struck twice in his first over against Australia, was insipid in his opening spell and prompted Imad Wasim, the captain, to bring him on from the other end. The change worked: Raza produced a sharp bouncer that hit Malan’s top-edge and ballooned up to wicketkeeper Ali Asad.

Rossouw, who played a calm innings to secure a victory against West Indies, was confident from the outset. He hoisted medium-pacer Mohammad Rameez off his hips to the midwicket boundary and then cut Raza with precision through a tiny gap at point. He also focused on singles and rotated the strike with Smuts, who by now was well set and pulled confidently whenever the medium-pacers pitched short.

With his three quicks proving ineffective, Wasim turned to offspinner Akmal and brought himself on from the other end to try and break the partnership. The ploy did not work as Rossouw swept Akmal effectively while Smuts used his power to clout Wasim’s left-arm spin to long-on and through midwicket. Rossouw hit the only six off the innings during this period, lofting Wasim over long-on.

The introduction of legspinner Shehzad eventually gave Pakistan the breakthrough. He bowled with four fielders in the circle on the off side and none on the leg, and invited Smuts to hit against the spin: he obliged and holed out to long-on for 58, ending a partnership of 91 for the second wicket. Rossouw fell soon after for 53, getting a leading edge to Akmal at short third man while trying to hit across the line.

From a position of strength at 126 for 1, South Africa stumbled to 142 for 3 with two brand new batsmen at the crease. Pakistan used the opportunity to slow the run-rate and Wasim removed three batsmen - Mohammad Vallie, Parnell and Roy Adams - before partnerships threatened to build.

However, Vandiar, who has batted aggressively throughout the tournament, kept the momentum going from one end with a plucky half-century. He played several orthodox cuts and drives interspersed with inside edges during his run-a-ball 50 and ensured that the initiative was not lost. Hendricks arrived right at the death overs and struck four fours in his 24 as Pakistan’s fielding grew increasingly ragged, allowing South Africa to score 70 off the final ten overs.

Source:Cricket News

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