World T20: Umar Gul Guides Pakistan to Thrilling Victory

Kushan Sarkar/Colombo
World T20: Umar Gul Guides Pakistan to Thrilling Victory
Umar Gul emerged as an unlikely batting hero as Pakistan came back from the dead to pull off a nerve-wracking two-wicket victory over South Africa in their opening Super Eights match of the ICC World Twenty20 here today.

Chasing a target of 134 on a difficult Premadasa strip, Gul produced a blistering 17-ball 32 while Umar Akmal scored an unbeaten 43 to guide the team to a thrilling victory with just two balls to spare.

Needing nine off the last over, Akmal pulled Morne Morkel for a six before Saeed Ajmal steered one through the vacant third-man region to win it for Pakistan, who were at a precarious 76 for seven in the 15th over.

Credit should go to Gul who smashed four huge sixes totally against the run of play to get Pakistan back in the match.

Gul's knock was crucial in the context of the match after South African spinners Robin Peterson and Johan Botha bowled brilliantly to set it up for AB de Villiers' men.

Gul was named the Man-of-the-Match for his batting after being introduced to bowl in the 18th over of the South African innings.

The low and slow nature of the Premadasa track with the odd-ball turning a fair bit did add to the batsmen's woes in both innings and that makes Akmal's innings even more valuable.

After Pakistan spinners displayed their prowess, it was the turn for Peterson and Botha, who were equally effective as they restricted the 2009 champions to 37 for four within the first seven overs. Peterson was most economical with figures of two for 15 in only four overs.

Dale Steyn started it all with a short ball that climbed late on Imran Nazir and his mistimed hook shot lobbed for AB de Villiers to take a simple catch.

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