COLOMBO – Fast bowler Umar Gul blasted 32 from 17 deliveries as Pakistan produced a stunning recovery to beat South Africa by two wickets in their opening Super Eights match at the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka today.
In a topsy-turvy encounter in Colombo, Pakistan were seemingly heading towards defeat when they slumped to 76-7 as they chased a victory target of 134.
But Gul, in partnership with Umar Akmal, put on 49 in 27 balls for the eighth wicket with Pakistan crossing the finishing line off the fourth delivery of the final over.
Akmal, who came to the crease with the score on 37-4, remained there until the end providing a more sedate but just as important 43 off 41.
As Pakistan fought back from the brink of defeat, Gul smacked Jacques Kallis for consecutive sixes in his whirlwind innings.
Gul finally departed when he was caught by Robin Peterson off Dale Steyn on the final ball of the 19th over. But with nine needed from the last six deliveries, Akmal dispatched the second ball of Morne Morkel’s concluding over for six and Saeed Ajmal sealed a thrilling triumph by edging the same bowler for four.
After winning the toss and opting to bat, South Africa slumped to 28-3 in the seventh over before recovering to post 133-6.
Jean-Paul Duminy led the fightback with 48 from 38 deliveries, hitting a brace of sixes while AB de Villiers added 25 off 18.
In reply, Pakistan reached 24 without loss off 16, and then promptly lost four wickets for 13 runs as South Africa appeared to take control.
Although the dangerous Shahid Afridi was removed first ball – caught in the deep by Albie Morkel after swinging at Duminy – South Africa were unable to contain Gul who posted a career-best T20 score.
The unfortunate Morne Morkel conceded 26 runs from his two overs. (Cricinfo)