Pakistan rocked South Africa at the Wanderers……

When Shoaib Malik was seen at the toss instead of Sarfraz Ahmed, the experts and fans were struck by sheer astonishment. None knew about the status of Sarfraz and it took a while for all to know that the Pakistan captain had been handed a 4-match ban for that remark in the second ODI. Interestingly, for the International Cricket Council, apologies don’t matter. Sarfraz was quick to apologize for that interest and even in the morning, before the start of third ODI, he and Andile Phehlukawyo shook hands and exchanged friendly words. But the ICC did not bother care such things. For some, the ICC loves to be strict.

In the morning, after coming to the ground, Shoaib Malik came to know he would have to lead the side for Pink ODI at Johannesburg. He might not have been ready for such, but Shoaib is a mature and much level-headed guy and these days, he is ready to accept any challenges. When the matter is about leading the team, it was nothing new to Malik. In front of a jam-packed crowd at the Wanderers, he led the Pakistan team with distinction.

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The captain of the team had been banned. A new captain to lead with the team 2-1 down in the series. Buzzing atmosphere at the stadium with the crowd rooting for the home side and in a series, where luck has not been favorable towards the touring party; Pakistan’s chances looked bleak.

But the characteristic of Pakistan team has always been to dish out clinical performances whenever they are cornered. Whenever one thinks, Pakistan would be down and dusted, they tend to rise and shine. While the rest of the world is left wondering, what just happened?

Also read: Jason Holder: Leading from the front

Such things have happened many times and just when people start to forget Pakistan’s nature, they remind everyone, why they are called the most unpredictable team in world cricket.

Malik knew Pakistan’s weakness while chasing totals, but despite knowing this, he decided to stick to logic rather than going by emotions. The track at Johannesburg was favorable for pacers and he immediately chose to bowl after winning the toss.

The impressive Shaheen Shah Afridi backed Malik’s decision by nailing Quinton de Kock and Reeza Hendricks. De Kock was undone by a full and straighter one while Hendrick was outclassed by seaming delivery which cut back from short of a length and leg stump line to kiss the edge and fly towards Mohammad Rizwan, the wicketkeeper, who replaced Sarfraz.

Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis essayed a partnership of 101 runs, but Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim dismissed du Plessis and Amla respectively to bring Pakistan back in the match. South Africa looked to revive the memories of Durban ODI through Phehlukwayo and Rassie van der Dussen’s again, but this time around, Usman Khan would not let this to happen.

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In a typical Pakistani fashion, Usman set jitters in South Africa batting lineup after coming to bowl his third spell. Usman was all about seam and swing bowling of highest quality. He moved the ball in-and-out, which left South Africa reeling. Moreover, when a bowler is in the mood to crush anything on his way, one could do nothing but watch the demolition act.

A mini-Usman-Khan-twister wracked havoc at Johannesburg as the home side lost 8 wickets for just 45 runs. The collapse was similar to third Test, but this time around, Pakistan’s batting did not betray the hard work of their bowlers.

Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam did not let any accident to happen.

Pakistan levelled the series in a clinical fashion. None expected Pakistan to perform this way. Many may not have wanted Pakistan to win. Some had the slightest of hopes, while the rest did not care. But after the match, each and everyone want to know how Pakistan did it!

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