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De Villiers, bowlers seal 4-1 series win

Pakistan batting stutters again as South Africa, led by its captain’s unbeaten 102-ball 115, wins final ODI by 117 runs

De Villiers, bowlers seal 4-1 series win - Cricket News
South Africa's captain AB de Villiers celebrates after making his century.

A century of rare brilliance from AB de Villiers led his team to a resounding 117-run victory against Pakistan in the fifth and final One-Day International of the series to give the tourists a compelling 4-1 series triumph.

South Africa’s inflated total of 268 for 7 seemed at least 30 or 40 runs above par. As it transpired, it was even more embarrassing for Pakistan, who lost its last five wickets for a paltry 31 runs to be bowled out for just 151 in 35.3 overs.

South Africa captain de Villiers looked as mortal as the rest of the line-up after batting first on a slow and awkward pitch, reaching 50 from 70 balls as his team lumbered to 150 for 5 with less than a dozen overs remaining. But he then flicked on the turbo booster for the final 45 minutes with an endless display of outrageous imagination and daring, his second 50 arriving from just 29 deliveries as he made a mockery of the conditions.

Just a single boundary of both varieties adorned the first, workmanlike part of the innings but by the time de Villiers was finished – unbeaten on 115 from just 102 balls – he had registered ten fours and three sixes.

Pakistan was in early trouble when Vernon Philander, playing his first ODI in over 18 months, removed Mohammad Hafeez and Umar Amin in his first spell following Lonwabo Tsotsobe’s initial strike to dismiss Ahmed Shehzad, caught at fine leg by Philander. At 17 for 3 in the ninth over, it was hard to see a way back.

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq and Sohaib Maqsood briefly counter-attacked until Misbah miscued a hook shot – the umpteenth Pakistani to fall to the short ball on the tour. Umar Akmal missed a sweep against JP Duminy’s offspinners and Shahid Afridi didn't last long either.

On the contrary, Maqsood has made a tremendously encouraging start to his international career and his 53 from 65 balls was the only saving grace for Pakistan.

As brilliant as de Villiers was, other members of the South African batting line-up produced worthy contributions. Quinton de Kock weathered tricky early conditions to make 34 from 41 balls while Faf du Plessis battled hard for 46 from, at times a painful, 89 deliveries. South African has talked long and hard about “building platforms” and that du Plessis could certainly claim to have done, although it took the brilliance of de Villiers to build on it.

Ryan McLaren, too, made a massive difference to the final score with 27 from just 24 balls during a sixth-wicket stand of 83 with de Villiers, who was, by then, unstoppable.

The imbalance in the Pakistan team was best illustrated by the fact that Junaid Khan was the sixth bowler used while Hafeez bowled just three overs of his under-rated offspin for figures of 1 for 10. An extra batsman, surely, was required, especially with Afridi now worthy of a place no higher than No. 9 or No. 10.

The two teams now face each other in two Twenty20 Internationals in Dubai before reconvening for three more ODIs and two more T20Is in South Africa at the end of the month.