AUCKLAND: Pakistan coach Waqar Younis senses his team are developing the same belief which propelled Imran Khan’s “cornered tigers” to the World Cup in 1992 after their thrilling victory over South Africa.
Pakistan pulled off a sensational 29-run win on the Duckworth-Lewis method after the match was reduced to a 47-over-a-side contest due to rain at Eden Park in Auckland.
Pakistan, whose innings was twice interrupted by rain, were bowled out for 222 in 46.4 overs with skipper Misbah-ul-Haq hitting 56 and recalled wicket-keeper/batsman Sarfraz Ahmed scoring a run-a-ball 49.
Pakistan’s left-arm pace trio of Rahat Ali (3-40), Wahab Riaz (3-45) and Mohammad Irfan (3-52) then bowled with venom to bundle South Africa out for 202 in 33.3 overs.
AB de Villiers smashed an impressive 58-ball 77 with five sixes and seven boundaries but his dismissal ninth man down sealed a third win in a row for Pakistan.
The victory gave Pakistan six points from five matches and revived their chances of a quarter-final place from Pool B while South Africa are also on six points from five games.
Waqar said the team is gaining the same spirit of 1992 after defeats in their first two matches.
“I hope it turns out to be the same,” said Waqar of the 1992 triumph which was also sealed in Australia and New Zealand.
“The World Cup means pressure games and in 1992 the team handled the pressure very well.
“They lost early games but then came back strongly, they had the belief and (captain) Imran Khan had serious belief and I am hopeful that the same belief is coming into our dressing room.
We are going to get better and better.”
Waqar was not part of that 1992 team, withdrawn a fortnight before the tournament started with a back problem.
“We are gaining that belief that we can deliver.
I am not going to think that far but, of course, we are heading in the right direction.
“We still need to win the last game to reach the quarter-final,” said Waqar of Pakistan’s last match against a dangerous Ireland in Adelaide on March 15.
The coach said he was thrilled with the win which was sealed by his bowlers after his batsmen had squandered a promising start to lose their last five wickets for 25 runs.
“We played aggressive cricket which I think Pakistan is known for, we have started finding the right combination and the players have started to trust their abilities and that’s the key.
I am very thrilled but it’s a long way to go.”
“We bowled extremely well and we were right on top,” said Waqar of his attack which he described as the “best in the tournament” a few days ago.
“Our bowlers bowled with gas and real purpose and pace.”
Waqar also saluted Sarfraz for his innings — his first of the competition — and six catches behind the stumps, equalling the world record for most one-day catches by a keeper.
“I never doubted his ability, we always knew how good he is but regarding his opening, he is a makeshift opener.”