Pitch plays up as Pakistan beat Proteas

Pakistan comfortably overhauled South Africa’s 199 in a World Cup warm-up match that was almost abandoned because of an uneven pitch on Friday.

Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf combined for a 100-run third-wicket partnership to propel Pakistan to 200-3 with nearly six overs to spare.

”It’s a 13-a-side game and therefore we’ll take that [win] with a pinch of salt — we have to win the real games,” Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer said.

Pakistan won the toss and sent in South Africa to bat at Sir Frank Worrell Ground and the Proteas were immediately in trouble. They recovered from 5-2 to post 199 in 48.3 overs — and interrupted their innings to complain about the pitch.

Shortly after the drinks break, at 56-3, South Africa coach Mickey Arthur, counterpart Woolmer and both captains had a discussion for about seven minutes with umpires Peter Parker and Ian Gould in the middle of ground.

Play resumed and International Cricket Council (ICC) official Dhiraj Malhotra said South Africa’s batsmen ”felt the ball was going on an uneven bounce”.

”It was a tale of two pitches really,” Arthur said. ”Had we bowled first, it might have been roles reversed.”

Arthur was particularly concerned about players getting injured ahead of the World Cup, which starts next week.

”Playing in these conditions, clearly the team that wins the toss will bat second because it misbehaves early on,” Arthur said while Pakistan was batting. ”It seems to have settled now, but going into the tournament, that would be a concern.”

The ICC wasn’t worried.

”One-hundred-and-ninety-nine all out doesn’t suggest to me that it’s a terror track on which it’s impossible to bat,” ICC spokesperson Brian Murgatroyd said.

Woolmer disagreed.

”My personal feeling was that there was concern, five balls really took off,” he said. ”It wasn’t a perfect batting wicket, but it wasn’t that bad and there were over 3 500 people in the ground who’d paid to come in and I thought we had a duty to continue the game.”

All tickets for the match were sold, with 3 643 fans watching.

Pakistan was keen for a good showing against South Africa, after losing a one-day series 3-1 there last month.

Sami, who arrived three days ago, showed little sign of jetlag when he helped open the bowling, trapping AB de Villiers lbw with his second ball. Umar Gul then clean bowled captain Graeme Smith in the next over.

South Africa advanced to 27 when Sami took his next wicket, giving him figures of 2-13, with Herschelle Gibbs caught by wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal for 11.

Ashwell Prince reached 35 before he was out lbw, leaving South Africa on 93-4. The next ball, Jacques Kallis also was trapped lbw, by Danish Kaneria for 29.

Mark Boucher and Loots Bosman pushed South Africa to 136 before Boucher was bowled by Mohammad Hafeez for 22. The last four wickets tumbled for 26 runs.

Fast bowler Gul and spinners Hafeez and Shoaib Malik each took two wickets.

Pakistan opener Imran Nazir was caught at third man by Bosman without scoring, and new-ball partners Shaun Pollock and Andre Nel restricted Pakistan’s scoring. After six overs, Pakistan were 10-1 and had a run rate of 1,7 — well off the 4,4 needed.

Khan and Hafeez steadied the innings, adding 68 runs, and increased Pakistan’s tempo.

Hafeez was caught behind off Charl Langeveldt for 49 but Khan and Yousuf put Pakistan comfortably on track for the win.

Younis top scored with 79 before he was trapped lbw by Smith.

Yousuf was not out 48 and Malik not out 16 as Pakistan won in 44.3 overs.

Sami was a late call-up to the squad, along with all-rounder Yasir Arafat, to replace Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, who withdrew last week with injuries.

Arafat, who arrived late on Wednesday, bowled seven overs and had figures of 0-27 and took two catches.

Both sides leave for Jamaica on Saturday for Sunday’s opening ceremony. — Sapa-AP

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