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AP/SN
September 28, 2012
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Tailender Umar Gul became an unlikely batting star as he helped Pakistan pull off a thrilling two-wicket win over South Africa in their World Twenty20 Super Eights match on Friday.
 
South Africa laboured against Pakistan's spin attack to post a modest 133-6 in 20 overs, then looked like it might be able to defend it.
 
Pakistan's chase was precariously placed at 76-7 in the 15th over, when Gul joined Umar Akmal with 58 needed for victory in five overs.
 
Gul, who'd hit double figures only five times in five years, launched three sixes and two boundaries in scoring a T20 career-best 32 off just 17 balls. He and Akmal, 43 not out, combined for 49 in 28 balls.
 
When Gul was finally out, caught on the boundary with an over to go, Pakistan was left with a gettable 9 to win over 6 balls. Akmal smashed Morne Morkel for his first six and Saeed Ajmal edged a boundary past the wicketkeeper for the winning runs at 136-8 with two balls to spare.
 
"Umar brought out something special for Pakistan," captain Mohammad Hafeez said.
 
Gul said Akmal, less experienced but a better batsman, boosted his confidence.
 
"When I went to bat, Umar (Akmal) said, 'You can get 15-20 runs, we can do it,"' Gul said.
 
Hafeez said they were rapt to restrict South Africa to a reachable target, but fortunate in the end.
 
"Anyone could have won this, Pakistan was lucky," he said.
 
Surprisingly South Africa captain AB de Villiers chose to operate his seamers almost to their whole quota of overs on a dusty pitch at R Premadasa Stadium, while two of his successful spinners -- Johan Botha and JP Duminy -- received just two overs each.
 
Fast bowler Dale Steyn took 3-22 while left-arm spinner Robin Pietersen returned 2-15 in his four overs.
 
Pakistan openers Hafeez and Imran Nazir got off to a good start sharing 24 runs at a run rate of eight runs per over.
 
But after Steyn had Nazir caught behind by de Villiers for 14 with the total on 24, Pakistan slumped. Pietersen justified his selection with two wickets four deliveries apart in his first over. It didn't look for Pakistan until Gul and Akmal joined up.
 
Earlier, Duminy top-scored for the Proteas with 48. Offspinner Hafeez and seamer Yasir Arafat picked up two wickets each.
 
 
 

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