South Africa vs Pakistan

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Pakistan achieved their highest-ever T20I run-chase to take a 1-0 lead against South Africa, sneaking home with a ball to spare. Mohammad Rizwan, whose purple patch shows no signs of receding, was the star man once more, staying unbeaten through the chase and scoring 74 off 50. Little of it looked likely, though, with South Africa well ahead in the game for much of the final stages, but a combination of poor bowling and fielding and brave hitting from Faheem Ashraf and Hasan Ali saw the win snatched away from the home side at the death. That a heavily depleted South Africa got so close might satisfy Mark Boucher when they reflect upon this game, but for now, this will be a cruel defeat to bear.


South Africa had opted to bat first after winning the toss, flying in the face of history; only twice in six previous games had the side making that decision ended up winning the game. It seemed to be paying off for much of the first innings, with most of the top order stepping up in the absence of the senior players in a big way. Janneman Malan, Aiden Markram and Heinrich Klaasen set South Africa the perfect platform, storming to 159 for 3 in 16 overs, before wickets from Pakistan pulled them back at the death.

South Africa didn't allow Pakistan to get off to a flyer in the Powerplay, but a 20-run over from debutant Sisanda Magala got them going. While Babar Azam fell soon after, Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman were in full flow. Zaman smashed three consecutive boundaries off George Linde to keep the asking rate in check, but when Tabraiz Shamsi removed him, things began to get tight.

Wickets continued to fall and Pakistan looked to have lost their way, but the inexperience of the South African side told in the end. A number of the errors they made were unforced, and Pakistan, smelling blood, capitalised. The final run scored was an overthrow, perhaps a fitting exclamation mark to a sloppy finish by the hosts without which, despite the odds against them, they could have taken the series lead.

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