Mar 16, 2007

Younis eases Pakistan past South Africa

Younis Khan's 79 guided Pakistan to a comfortable seven-wicket victory over South Africa on a difficult pitch in Trinidad. The match was stopped during South Africa's innings when the batsmen complained about the surface, but Pakistan did not have any difficulty in reaching their total of 200 for 3 with 5.3 overs remaining.

"It was a tale of two pitches," Mickey Arthur, South Africa's coach, told AFP. "When we batted it was wet and difficult, but later the pitch dried up and became easier."

Pakistan's reply started poorly, Imran Nazir falling for 0, before Younis and Mohammad Hafeez eased towards the target. Hafeez was caught behind off Charl Langeveldt one short of a half-century, but Younis did not let the slip-up affect him and he managed the proceedings until departing lbw to Graeme Smith's offspin at 157 for 3. He hit nine fours and a six during his 98-ball innings.

Mohammad Yousuf (48) and Shoaib Malik (16) made sure of the victory to continue Pakistan's strong preparation. After winning both of their warm-ups, the side is ideally placed before the tournament-opening match against West Indies on Tuesday. "I am delighted that all my batsmen and bowlers have got some good practice," Inzamam-ul-Haq said. "This is an ideal time to enter the main competition."

South Africa have some problems after their batting also struggled in the match against Ireland, but Arthur said there was no panic from the No. 1-ranked side. "These are just practice games," he said, "and I hope we do well when the main competition starts."

Loots Bosman provided the glue with a battling half-century to lift South Africa to a modest total after they had earlier come unstuck on the tricky pitch. Pakistan had them 27 for 3 before a Jacques Kallis and Ashwell Prince rescue act added 66 for the fourth wicket.

They both fell on 93, leaving South Africa in some difficulty, before Bosman's bashing helped them to 199. Pakistan's bowlers kept plugging away, though, and removed them inside their 50 overs. However, Pakistan would have fancied their chances of containing them for even fewer after Mohammad Sami started by removing the opener AB de Villiers lbw and finding Herschelle Gibbs' edge, while Umar Gul clean bowled Smith for 1.

The match at St Augustine, Trinidad, was held up for nearly ten minutes owing to poor pitch conditions. South Africa were 56 for 3, with Kallis and Prince at the crease, after being put in when the game was stopped following complaints from the batsmen. Bob Woolmer, Pakistan's coach, and Smith, South Africa's captain, came on to the pitch and were involved in discussions with the umpires Peter Parker and Ian Gould.

"The batsmen were not happy with the way the ball was bouncing," an ICC official said, "but the umpires asked them to continue." The interruption was the latest incident in Trinidad to hamper both sides' preparations for the tournament. Earlier in the week the teams were evacuated because of a gas leak at their Hilton hotel, while Pakistan's match against Canada was reduced to a 48-over affair because of a fallen sightscreen.

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