Pakistan keep slim World Cup hopes alive with South Africa win

SYDNEY (AFP): Pakistan kept their slim Twenty20 World Cup hopes alive with a 33-run win over South Africa in a dramatic rain-affected match at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday.

South Africa, who are still on course for the semi-finals, came out blazing after a rain delay saw their initial target of 186 adjusted down to 142, meaning they needed 73 runs in five overs.

But the asking rate was too much and they finished on 108-9 at the end of a captivating match that had a bit of everything, from bad weather to good bowling and dropped catches.

Their win means Pakistan can still reach the World Cup semi-finals if they win their last match against Bangladesh and other results go their way.

But they must rely on both India and South Africa losing their final games.

Earlier, Iftikhar Ahmed and Shadab Khan rescued Pakistan with the bat with a superb 82-run partnership.

Iftikhar, who came to the crease with Pakistan in big trouble at 43-4, scored 51 off 35 balls and Shadab blazed 52 from 22 as Pakistan finished their innings at 185-9.

Pakistan had looked headed for a certain early exit from the tournament as the South African seam attack tore through the top order.

But Iftikhar stayed firm, sharing a 52-run partnership with Mohammad Nawaz before he and Shadab took the much-vaunted South African attack apart, taking the score from 95-5 to 177-6.

After finishing strongly with the bat, the Pakistanis began well with the ball, Quinton de Kock chipping Shaheen Afridi to Mohammad Haris at midwicket for a duck on the last ball of the first over.

Afridi then removed the dangerous Rilee Rossouw for seven in his second over, caught by Naseem Shah on the third man boundary, leaving South Africa 16-2.

South African captain Temba Bavuma has been struggling for form this tournament but he looked in great touch as he cruised to 36. He and Aiden Markram took the score to 65.

But Shadab changed the game in his first over, the leg-spinner having Bavuma caught behind then bowling Markram through the gate one run later, leaving South Africa 66-4.

The rain, which had been falling lightly on and off for much of the match, then began to come down more heavily, forcing the players from the field with nine overs down.

When they returned South Africa needed 73 runs in five overs, a target that proved too great.