BIRMINGHAM, (The News): Chris Morris took two wickets on his one-day international debut and Ryan McLaren a career-best four for 19 as South Africa returned to winning ways in the Champions Trophy with a 67-run success over Pakistan at Edgbaston on Monday.
Pakistan, set 235 to win, finished on 167 all out as South Africa made light of the absence of premier fast bowlers Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel in winning with five overs to spare.
McLaren’s return, which included a spell of four for five in 11 balls, saw him enjoy fresh success at an Edgbaston ground he’d once helped look after while with Warwickshire 2nd XI.
In 2007, the seamer took a hat-trick at Edgbaston for Kent as they won English county cricket’s Twenty20 Cup.
Both Pakistan and South Africa needed to win this day/night fixture after losing their opening Group B matches to the West Indies and India respectively.
But while this victory revived South Africa’s chances of a semi-final spot, defeat left Pakistan’s hopes hanging by a thread.
Pakistan did well to restrict South Africa to 234 for nine after man-of-the-match Hashim Amla, dropped before he reached double figures, made 81.
But the question was whether Pakistan, who’d been bowled out for just 170 by the West Indies, could make a winning score against a South Africa attack missing Steyn, still to feature in this tournament because of a knee injury, and Morkel, whose Champions Trophy ended after he suffered a leg injury against India.
Pakistan’s chase stalled from the outset when Morris, a late call-up to the squad after Morkel was ruled out, produced a new-ball burst of two wickets for 10 runs in 19 balls.
The 26-year-old Highveld Lions seamer, struck with his fifth ball when he knocked over left-hander Imran Farhat’s off stump.
Morris, who’d previously played two Twenty20 internationals, then saw Mohammad Hafeez fail to get over the top of a bouncer and hole out to square leg.
By the time McLaren took two wickets in five balls, with the aid of fine catches by Colin Ingram and Faf du Plessis, Pakistan were 134 for six off 39 overs.
But Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq, who made a career-best 96 not out against the West Indies, completed a 69-ball fifty with a straight six off left-arm spinner Robin Peterson.
It was a shot greeted by huge cheers from the overwhelmingly pro-Pakistan 25,000 capacity crowd in Birmingham, which boasts one of the largest Asian populations of any English city.
But the crowd was silenced when Misbah, on 55, pulled a Lonwabo Tsotsobe slower ball to Amla at mid-wicket and the skipper was booed at the post-match presentation ceremony.
McLaren ended the match by bowling Junaid Khan.
Amla was missed on seven when a cut off Mohammad Irfan flew to backward point where Umar Amin dropped the tough chance.
He made Pakistan pay with a typically stylish innings before he reverse-swept off-spinner Saeed Ajmal to Hafeez at short third man.
South Africa conclude their group campaign against the West Indies in Cardiff on Friday, with Pakistan facing arch-rivals India at Edgbaston on Saturday.