The blazing half century of Markram and Klaasen and a fine saying by Shamsi were in vain
Pakistan 189 for 6 (Rizwan 74 *, Ashraf 30, Hendricks 3-32, Shamsi 2-29) defeated South Africa 188 for 6 (Markram 51, Klaasen 50, van Biljon 34, Nawaz 2-21, Hasan 2-28) by four Gates
Pakistan reached the highest T20I chase ever against South Africa 1-0 and snuck home with a ball. Mohammad Rizwan, whose purple blotch shows no sign of decline, was the star again, remaining undefeated during the chase, scoring 74 out of 50. Little of that seemed likely though, as South Africa was way up front for much of the final but one Combination of poor bowling and fielding and courageous beating by Faheem Ashraf and Hasan Ali ensured that the win was torn away from the home team on death. That a severely exhausted South Africa came so close might satisfy Mark Boucher when they think about this game, but for now it will be a cruel defeat.
South Africa had chosen to beat first after winning the throw and having flown given history. Only twice in six previous games had the team that made that decision won the game. It seemed to pay off for much of the first innings, with the bulk of the top orders increasing in large measure in the absence of the older players. Janneman Malan, Aiden Markram and Heinrich Klaasen put South Africa on the perfect platform and stormed for 3 of 16 overs to 159 before wickets from Pakistan withdrew them on death.
South Africa didn’t allow Pakistan to get a flyer in power play, but a 20-run by debutante Sisanda Magala got them going. While Babar Azam fell shortly afterwards, Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman were in full swing. Zaman hit three straight lines ahead of George Linde to keep the supply rate in check, but things got tight when Tabraiz Shamsi removed him.
The gates kept falling and Pakistan seemed lost, but the inexperience of the South African side showed in the end. Some of the mistakes they made were casual, and Pakistan, which smelled of blood, capitalized on. The last goal was a fall, perhaps a fitting exclamation point for a sloppy end for the hosts, without which they could have taken the lead in the series despite all the adversities.
Pakistan’s bowling problems
Pakistan’s T20I bowling is by far the toughest suit. But little of that was to be seen today, as they did a strikingly disappointing performance that could have resulted in a uglier scorecard if Mohammad Nawaz hadn’t stood above the rest of his colleagues. Shaheen Afridi struggled to cope with Janneman Malan’s combat readiness, with the South African apparently eager to target Pakistan’s best bowlers and achieve great results in the process. Usman Qadir, according to legend, played worse than ever in a Pakistani jersey after shaving off his flowing locks while there were many throws and slot deliveries of the faster bowlers who were consistently punished.
Jeinrich Klaasen and Pite van Biljon placed themselves in a solid position for the fourth wicket AFP / Getty Images
Pakistan has managed to reverse this for most of the last five overs since Klaasen was fired. The number of absences in the middle order of South Africa meant that takeover was scarce at the time. The lines were more accurate and the men on the other end less capable, allowing Pakistan to curb South Africa under 200.
While most of South Africa’s finest players compete in the IPL, they will be very happy to keep the services of the current number one T20I bowler. Shamsi’s spell was perhaps the only time during the chase that the hosts were confident they had a master of his craft at work. It was an enchanting time of gaming that Shamsi hung one on a wider line to lure Fakhar Zaman out while using the googly for devastating effects. The batsmen always seemed to be guessed, and the supply rate on his watch rose to over 12. Mohammad Hafeez’s dismissal was a particular highlight. The batsman was hopelessly unaware of the impending danger as he danced down the track without bothering to get to the pitch. The ball twisted away, leaving Klaasen with a simple stump, and Shamsi unfolded this iconic shoe-phone celebration.
The final game
When Beuran Hendricks removed Haider Ali and Mohammad Nawaz from consecutive balls to start the 16th over, the game looked like it was crucially swinging. Rizwan and Ashraf let Pakistan hold out for about ten minutes and sneaked into the strange border as they took the competition deep. Ironically, however, it was Hendricks’ entourage who reopened the game for Pakistan. Rizwan took 14 of his first three balls to bring Pakistan back under control. With eleven called in the final, South Africa’s nerves would get better as Faheem dropped the first ball while young Lizaad Williams missed his lines and Hasan Ali got six off his first two balls. Pakistan took three out of two, squeezing two more before Williams fumbled a throw from the deep, and Rizwan and Hasan ran another run to score an unlikely win.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ Danny61000