CENTURION: Captain Babar Azam hit a record-breaking 122 to lead Pakistan to an impressive nine-wicket victory over hosts South Africa at Centurion on Wednesday and a 2-1 lead in the four-match Twenty20 International series.
Mohammad Rizwan scored an unbeaten 73 as he and Babar, whose century came off 49 balls, shared a record 197-run partnership in a devastating display of batting that enabled the touring side to reel in South Africa’s competitive 203-5 with consummate ease at the SuperSport Park.
They won with two overs to spare after making 205-1, dispatching the home bowling to all corners of the ground.
Babar’s record T20 International score for Pakistan, including 15 fours and four sixes off 59 balls, came a day after he became the top ranked one-day batsman. He is third in the T20 rankings and played an innings of finesse and guile rather than bludgeoning shots to underline his class.
Rizwan’s knock was overshadowed by his skipper but he was equally brilliant in a supporting role. It was the second highest successful run chase in a T20 International at Centurion with a tiring Babar eventually out caught behind off the bowling of Lizaad Williams.
Opening batsmen Aiden Markram and Janneman Malan earlier set up South Africa for a big total with punishing half-centuries. Markram (63) and Malan (55) hit powerfully to put on 108 for the first wicket before Markram was bowled by left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz off the fourth ball of the 11th over.
It was Markram’s third successive half-century, a feat achieved previously for South Africa only by Hashim Amla in T20 Internationals. Markram hit six fours and four sixes in a 31-ball innings.
Malan faced 40 balls and hit five fours and two sixes in making his maiden T20 international half-century.
Pakistan surprisingly left out leg-spinner Usman Qadir, the most successful bowler in their defeat in the second match, which left Babar with only five bowlers, who each had to bowl a full quota of four overs at a venue where high totals are frequent.
Nawaz, the only slow bowler in the line-up, dismissed both openers and contributed to the South African innings briefly losing momentum after the opening partnership. Nawaz took two for 38.
J.N. Malan c Faheem b Nawaz 55
A.K. Markram n Nawaz 63
G.F. Linde b Faheem 22
H.E. van der Dussen not out 34
H. Klaasen b Hasan 15
A.L. Phehlukwayo lbw b Shaheen 11
EXTRAS (LB-2, W-1) 3
TOTAL (for five wkts, 20 overs) 203
FALL OF WKTS: 1-108 (Markram), 2-141 (Linde), 3-143 (Malan), 4-164 (Klaasen), 5-203 (Phehlukwayo).
DID NOT BAT: P.J. van Biljon, S.S.B. Magala, B.E. Hendricks, L.B. Williams, T. Shamsi.
BOWLING: Shaheen Shah Afridi 4-0-39-1 (1w); Mohammad Nawaz 4-0-38-2; Hasan Ali 4-0-47-1; Haris Rauf 4-0-40-0; Faheem Ashraf 4-0-37-1.
Mohammad Rizwan not out 73
Babar Azam c Klaasen b Williams 122
Fakhar Zaman not out 8 EXTRAS (LB-1, W-1) 2
TOTAL (for one wkt, 18 overs) 205 FALL OF WKT: 1-197 (Babar).
DID NOT BAT: Mohammad Hafeez, Haider Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Asif Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf.
BOWLING: Linde 4-0-38-0; Hendricks 4-0-55-0; Williams 4-0-34-1; Shamsi 3-0-39-0 (1w); Magala 3-0-38-0.
RESULT: Pakistan won by nine wickets to lead four-match series 2-1.
UMPIRES: A. Palekar (South Africa) and B.P. Jele (South Africa).
TV UMPIRE: A.T. Holdstock (South Africa).
MATCH REFEREE: A.J. Pycroft (Zimbabwe).
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Babar Azam.
FIRST MATCH: Johannesburg, Pakistan won by four wickets.
SECOND MATCH: Johannesburg, South Africa won by six wickets.
FOURTH MATCH: Centurion, Friday (5:30pm PST).
Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2021