Jinx breaking victory at Auckland

Pakistan achieved a scintillating victory over South Africa at Auckland. This victory broke the jinx South Africa had on Pakistan in World Cup matches.
This was Pakistan’s fourth match against South Africa in all world cup tournaments. Playing a 4th match against sides having strangle hold over Pakistan proved lucky in past also. Pakistan able to beat West Indies and England in its fourth meeting in world cup after suffering three consecutive defeats against these opponents in first three world cups.
Defeating India in a world cup match is becoming a herculean task for Pakistan. Although Pakistan lost all the 6 matches it played against India but it was during the fourth meeting between these two teams that Pakistan’s batting clicked and set a stiff target for India. Had it not been for the mastery of Sachin Tendulkar that day Pakistan would have won the match and break the sequence of defeats in World cup.
Coming back to Pakistan, South Africa rivalry in World Cup; it was in Brisbane way back in 1992 when these two teams came face to face for the first time.
After a gap of nearly 21 years, South Africa reentered the global cricket community just few months before the 1992 world cup. In this tournament they were an unknown commodity whom no critic was ready to rate highly but South Africa with their resounding performance stunned everyone and with a bang announced their return to international cricket.
In this world cup, Pakistan and South Africa come face to face for the first time in Brisbane. Pakistan with the help of its two leg spinners able to restrict South Africa to a reasonable gettable total and during the chase, they seems to be cruising toward their target but were halted by rain. During 1992 World Cup a weird method was in place to set the target in rain affected matches. It is because of this weird method that a simple chase for Pakistan became a mammoth one and Pakistan failed to reach its target.
This match is always be remembered for the heroics of Jhonty Rhodes in the field particularly his run out of Inzimam Ul Haq. Inzi in partnership with Imran Khan was playing a gem of an innings. During this innings, he attempted a risky leg bye but was send back by Imran Khan. As Inzimam was trying to reach his crease, Jhonty with ball in his hands dived like a tiger and broke the stumps. This unbelievable act of Jhonty Rhodes not only surprised the players and spectators present in the ground but also stunned the thousands of viewers watching this match around the globe. Jhonty’s run out of Inzimam is such a fabulous moment that TV channels still use this for their cricket related promos and advertisements.
Wasim Akram few weeks ago while talking about this incident in a tv show said that in dressing room captain Imran Khan asked Inzi why you don’t dive and Inzimam replied that I never expect him to dive into the stumps.
This defeat put Pakistan in a catch22 situation as from this point onwards, they not only need to win their remaining matches but also need few favorable results from other matches in order to qualify for the knock out stage of the tournament. Fortunately all the pieces feel in place and Pakistan not only qualify for the Semi Final but also go on and win the tournament.
Pakistan met South Africa for the 2nd time in a world cup match at National Stadium Karachi during 1996 world cup. This match is crucial for both teams as winner of this match will finish the pool as group leader and play its Quarter Final in Pakistan while the looser have to contend with 2nd position in group and have to travel to India for its quarter final against Pakistan. Pakistan was confident that on a sluggish pitch with two spinners they will be able to contain South Africa but Proteas have a set plan to counter Pakistan’s spinners. Sweep shot was the secret weapon of South Africa’s batsmen at national Stadium Karachi which Pakistan failed to encounter and lost this all important match. This defeat and some other indifferent results set up a quarter final between Pakistan & India at Bangalore which Pakistan lost and were dumped out of the tournament.
Pakistan met South Africa for the third time at Nottingham, during 1999 world cup. In seaming conditions, Pakistan struggle initially but with the help of lower order was able to set a decent total for proteas to chase.
Considering Pakistan’s bowling line up, it was expected to be an intriguing chase and that what it proved to be. At one stage Pakistan reduced South Africa to 58/5 and was seems to be on path of victory. After pushing the opponents down on the mat, Pakistan instead of going for the kill spread the field around and allows easy singles. This strategy gave breathing space to the 6th wicket pair of Pollock and Kallis who slowly rebuilt the partnership and bring their team back in the match. This partnership set a perfect platform for burly Lance Klusener to come in later in the innings and finish the job. With this defeat, Pakistan once again lost an opportunity to defeat South Africa in a world cup match.
Recently Pakistan South Africa came face to face at Auckland during a pool match of 2015 World Cup. Pakistan’s abysmal display of batting once again created problem for bowlers who were given task of defending below par total.
Pakistan proved lucky as its bowlers and fielders combine well to defend this meager total. Bowlers mostly deliver in right areas and fielders including wicket keeper able to grab nearly all the chances that come their way to set a jinx breaking victory for Pakistan.
In past after getting early wickets, Pakistan often spread its fielding, remove fielder from catching position and allow opponents easy singles this did not happened in Auckland as Pakistan kept relentless pressure throughout the South African innings. Presence of close in fielders and non- availability of easy singles prompt South Africa’s batsmen to play shots and excessive shot making lead to downfall of few players which ajar the door for Pakistan and once the opportunity present itself, Pakistan grab it with both hands.
Pakistan is playing with five regular bowlers in this World cup and considering their unreliable batting line up, burden on bowlers to perform increased a lot. So far in this high scoring tournament, Pakistan successfully defended below par totals twice due to aggressive bowling and fielding and proved itself the best bowling side of cricket world cup 2015
The saying ‘Attack is the best form of defense’ should be the slogan of team Pakistan going forward in this tournament.

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