Birmingham, June 10 : Prolific batsman Hashim Amla (81) crafted a superb half-century but Pakistan rode on intermittent strikes to restrict South Africa to 234 for nine in their crucial Champions Trophy match, here today.
Despite a splendid job by Pakistani pacers upfront, South African batsmen did succeed in getting good starts, however, they were guilty of not converting those into big knocks.
Faf du Plessis (28), skipper AB de Villiers (31) and JP Duminy (24) all departed after making small contributions.
Amla too gifted his wicket on a extravagant shot, a reverse sweep, as he was batting confidently and hardly looked like troubled by any bowler. His 81 came off 97 balls with nine shots to the fence.
Resultantly, South Africa did not have the kind of batsmen who could get some quick runs to give fillip to the innings towards the end.
Pakistani pacemen were not unplayable but they did extract good bounce off the pitch to trouble the Proteas.
Spinners Saeed Ajmal and Mahammed Hafeez too played a part in stifling the Proteas innings. They got just a wicket each but conceded just 42 and 38 runs respectively.
Shoaib Malik too bowled miserly, giving away just 27 runs in his six overs, and also got wicket of Ryan McLaren.
Amla, who has been scoring consistently for South Africa, was his usual composed self as he rotated the strike well and formed a good stand with Plessis after the side had lost opener Colin Ingram (20), who was trapped by Hafeez.
Amla and Plessis and added 69 runs for the second wicket.
As Mohammed Irfan (1/27) and Junaid Khan (1/45) were getting good bounce off the pitch and spinners too bowled impressively, Amla and Plessis were cautious in their approach. Amla later on started playing reverse sweep against Hafeez and Ajmal and got some runs.
However, luck deserted him on one occasion as he reverse swept Ajmal but could not keep the ball down and was caught by Hafeez in the third man region.
It happened about four overs after Irfan had scalped Plessis by having the batsman caught in cover region. Plessis went for a pull, misjudged the bounce and just managed an edge which flew to Shoaib Malik.
The Pakistanis then effected runs outs Duminy and De Villiers, exposing the tail of the Proteas to some quality bowling.