Colombo, Sep 28 (IANS) Umar Akmal and Umar Gul Friday won for Pakistan their Group 2 match they had almost lost to South Africa at the Super Eight stage of the World Twenty20 Championship at the R Premadasa Stadium here.
Requiring 58 off the last five overs, a brilliant 49-run match-winning stand between Akmal (43 not out) and Gul gave Pakistan a two-wicket win from an all but lost situation.
Chasing South Africa's score of 133 for six, pacer Gul smashed 32 off 17 balls which included four sixes and four fours as Pakistan ended up with 136 for eight.
Electing to bat, South Africa were in a spot of bother early losing both openers Richard Levi (8) and Hashim Amla (6) cheaply. All-rounder Jacques Kallis too failed to make an impact as South Africa were reduced to 28 for three in the sixth over.
JP Duminy (48) and Farhan Behardien (18), playing his fourth T20 international, did the rebuilding work but the 28-year-old gave away his wicket cheaply.
Captain AB de Villiers, who uncharacteristically came down the order, finally provided the South Africans the impetus that was lacking. He hit two fours and a six in his quickfire innings of 25 from 18 balls taking South Africa to a fighting score.
In reply, Pakistan got off to a rollicking start courtesy captain Hafeez Saeed and his opening partner Imran Nazir (14). But Nazir's wicket spelt doom for the Pakistanis as they lost wickets at regular intervals and were reduced to 73 for six in 14 overs.
Pakistan failed to cope with tight spin bowling by the South Africans and in an effort to score quickly gave away their wickets too easily.
Poor shot selection proved to be the top order's downfall. Shahid Afridi was a perfect example of Pakistan's callousness. The all-rounder playing his first ball tried to slog Duminy out of the park but only managed to lob a simple catch to the long-on fielder.
South African spinners bowled with great precision and control giving away 30 runs in a combined eight overs and took four wickets.
But all their hardwork went down the drain as Gul's late fireworks took Pakistan across the line.