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T20 World Cup: Pakistan keeps hope alive in semi-final with victory over South Africa | Cricket

Pakistan clung to their hopes of making it to the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup with a 33-run win over South Africa in a rain-stricken Group 1 Super 12 match at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday. Pakistan climbed to third place with the win and their net run rate is higher than the best placed India’s. Spin bowling all-rounder Shadab Khan played with both bat and ball, scoring a 22-ball 52 first to help Pakistan recover from a disastrous start and scoring 184/9 as first bat.

He then took over sacked South African captain Temba Bavuma and Aiden Markram in the same, just before rain interrupted proceedings. The two wickets meant South Africa’s DLS par-score by shooting up and they ended up chasing a 142 goal in 14 overs. South Africa was 69/4 when it started to rain, meaning they had to score 73 runs in five overs. The Proteas are well short with 108 for nine.

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The Proteas remain second behind India in Group 2 despite the loss and will secure one of two spots in the semi-finals if they beat the Netherlands in their final Super 12 game on Sunday. To stand any chance of progress, Pakistan must beat Bangladesh in Sunday’s second game at Adelaide Oval and hope the Dutch have suffered a defeat or Zimbabwe manage to stun India in the final group match in Melbourne.

“Our first two games were narrow losses, but we gave 100% in our last two games,” said Pakistani skipper Babar Azam. “Cricket is a fun game, you never know, so we hope for the best.”

Pakistan’s hopes of making it to the last four were already hanging in the game and they looked back when top batsmen Mohammad Rizwan, Azam and Shan Masood all left cheaply. However, Mohammad Haris, who was immediately thrown into the fray after coming on to replace Fakhar Zaman, had shown his teammates the way with a blistering 28 from 11 balls starting with two sixes and a four.

Iftikhar, who hit 51, and Shadab, who hit 52 from 22 balls, followed his lead with a partnership of 82 for the sixth wicket to transform the innings, which ended with a downpour, a few limits and a flurry of wickets. As Azam’s miserable tournament continued with six runs taking him to 14 out of four innings, his South African counterpart Bavuma shrugged off the early loss of opening partner Quinton de Kock for a duck.

Bavuma, whose previous three innings of the tournament had given him 14 runs, hit a dogged 36 before falling behind Shadab’s first pitch. Markram was bowled two balls later for 20 and after the rain break Seamers Afridi, Mohammad Wasim and Naseem Shah successfully snagged the South Africans as they snatched away with regular wickets.

“I think it’s pretty disappointing how we’ve completed our bowling effort, there are a lot of questions we need to ask ourselves,” Bavuma said.

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