Pakistan keep T20 World Cup 2022 hopes alive after crushing win over South Africa

Babar Azam's team overpower Proteas in Sydney to remain in the race for last-four spot

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It remains to be seen whether they turned up to the competition two matches too late. But the real Pakistan finally stood up in Sydney as they demolished a previously unbeaten South Africa by 33 runs.

In so doing, they maintained their hopes of a place in the semi-final of the T20 World Cup. They remain third-favourites, after the Proteas and India, of getting one of the top two places in the group.

But there is still hope. “The first two matches were close losses, but we've given 100 per cent in the last two matches and you never know,” Babar Azam, Pakistan’s captain, said. “Cricket is a funny game, we hope for the best.”

If they are to make it through, they will need South Africa to slip up against the Netherlands, or India to do similar against Zimbabwe, then keep up their own end of the bargain by beating Bangladesh on Sunday.

Even if there are plenty of ifs, buts and maybes yet, at least Pakistan’s supporters had the best version of their team back again.

Not that it could have been predicted after a sticky start which again saw Babar and Mohammed Rizwan, their out-of-sorts opening pair, fall cheaply again.

They were revived by Mohammed Haris, who hit three sixes in a remarkable 11-ball stay worth 28. He had been put straight into the XI a day after being approved as an injury replacement for Fakhar Zaman.

Where he led, Ifthikhar Ahmed and Shadab Khan followed. They both laced half-centuries to help Pakistan post 185-9.

Shadab’s effort was stunning, with four sixes from the 22 balls he faced for his 52.

“I’ve maybe done like this in the PSL, but this is an international match so definitely this is the best,” he said when asked if he had ever struck the ball as cleanly.

He subsequently bowled the decisive over of the match, removing Temba Bavuma and Aiden Markram two balls apart.

It was crucial. Rain delayed the game after that over, with the Proteas far behind the Duckworth Lewis Stern par score.

They did get back out to the middle, required a revised target of 142 from 14 overs. They did not get near, thanks to fine death bowling from Mohammed Wasim and Naseem Shah.

“I’m very happy the way the team performed,” Babar said.

“Me and Rizwan were not up to the mark, but the way Haris played, he's a different player and shifted the momentum.

“Then Shadab and Iftikhar were outstanding in finishing the innings.”

South Africa, who were missing David Miller because of a back injury, still have their fate in their own hands, with their final match coming against last-placed Netherlands.

But captain Bavuma is demanding an improvement on the display against Pakistan.

“It was disappointing with our batting and fielding, getting them five down then allowing them to get to that formidable score,” Bavuma said.

“There are a lot of questions we need to ask ourselves, then find the solutions going forward.”

Updated: November 03, 2022, 1:10 PM