Pakistan’s Wahab Riaz (right) celebrates with teammate Sohail Khan after their 29 run win over South Africa in the Cricket World Cup. (AP)
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) – The Pakistan squad of 2015 is showing the kind of resilience that Imran Khan's lineup of 1992 needed to win the Cricket World Cup title.
This time the comeback is on Misbah-ul-Haq’s watch, the veteran batsman holding firm again as Pakistan beat South Africa on Saturday by 29 runs in Auckland, New Zealand under the Duckworth-Lewis system for rain-affected games.
In the other match Saturday, Ireland stayed in the hunt for a quarter-final place and all but ended Zimbabwe’s chances for the final eight with a five-run win at Hobart, Tasmania. After posting 331 for eight which featured an Ed Joyce century and 97 runs from Andy Balbirnie, Ireland endured a nervous defence of their total as Zimbabwe also passed 300.
Brendan Taylor scored an impressive 121 from 91 balls while Sean Williams added 96 before Alex Cusack took two of his four wickets in the last over to clinch victory for the Irish.
The win moved Ireland into fourth place in Pool B, level on six points each with South Africa and Pakistan but behind on net run rate.
“They held their nerve for longer periods and the team that panics first generally falls short, full credit to Ireland,” Taylor said. “They’re a hungry side and they’re a very passionate team so there’s no reason why they can’t prove to the world that they’re a force to be reckoned with."
Pakistan wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed won man-of-the-match honours after scoring a run-a-ball 49 and then equalled the world record for a One-Day match by taking six catches in the win over South Africa.
On Sunday, both co-hosts play, and one can help the other out. If New Zealand beat Afghanistan at Napier and Australia defeat Sri Lanka at Sydney, the Kiwis will clinch first place in Pool A. The New Zealanders have already secured a spot in the quarter-finals after four consecutive wins.
Veteran New Zealand spinner Daniel Vettori is poised to reach 300 ODI wickets. Vettori, who is playing at his fifth World Cup, needs two more wickets to become the first New Zealander to reach the milestone.
Zimbabwe 326 in 49.3 overs (Brendan Taylor 121, Sean Williams 102; Alex Cusack 4-32, John Mooney 2-58, Kevin O’Brien 2-90). Ireland 331-8 in 50 overs (Ed Joyce 112, Andy Balbirnie 97; Tendai Chatara 3-61). Ireland defeated Zimbabwe by 29 runs on the Duckworth/Lewis method.
Pakistan 222 in 46.4 overs (Misbah ul-Haq 56, Sarfraz Ahmed 49, Younis Khan 37; Dale Steyn 3-30). South Africa 202 in 33.3 overs (A.B. de Villiers 77, Hashim Amla 38; Mohammad Irfan 3-52, Rahat Ali 3-40). Pakistan defeated South Africa by 29 runs.