South Africa’s bowlers held their nerve at the death as Pakistan squandered a golden opportunity to level the three game T20 series in front of a 14,883 strong crowd at the Wanderers. Chasing 189, the visitors fell seven runs short and thus saw their 11 series winning streak in bilateral T20’s broken by the Proteas.
The Proteas gave debuts to Janneman Malan and Lutho Sipamla, while Pakistan brought back Shaheen Shah Afridi. David Miller, in his maiden game as SA captain, lost the toss, and his opposite number Shoaib Malik opted to ask the Proteas to take first guard.
Malan and Reeza Hendricks got off to a steady start. They were particularly severe on the pacers, disdainfully dispatching the short ones, but were more circumspect against Imad Wasim, who gave away only 9 runs in his four overs. Imad also accounted for debutant Malan, who was stumped for 33 while attempting to accelerate.
South Africa only scored 61 in their first 10 overs, but the introduction of Rassie van der Dussen provided some much needed impetus to the innings. Hendricks was run out for 27 while taking on the arm of Shadab, but van der Dussen, so impressive in the ODI’s, hit four sixes in his 27 ball 45 before falling to Shaheen.
A rain delay briefly halted play, but Pakistan’s bowlers were taken to the cleaners after it resumed. Hasan Ali and Usman Shinwari were both punished, with the latter taken for 29 runs by Miller in the final over of the game, resulting in him acquiring the unwanted record for most runs conceded by a Pakistani bowler in T20’s (0/63 in 4 overs). The Proteas ended up with 188/3 in their 20. Imad and Shaheen together went for only 36 in their eight overs, but the rest were abysmal, going 0/152 in their 12.
Pakistan however began their chase positively, with Babar Azam again in sparkling form. Fakhar Zaman fell cheaply, but Babar was imperious, hitting each of Junior Dala, Beuran Hendricks, Chris Morris and Tabraiz Shamsi for a hat trick of fours (and consecutive ones at that!)
The visitors seemed well on course to register a comfortable win, but some tight overs in the middle from debutant Sipamla and Andile Phehlukwayo brought the required rate up, and once Hendricks had Babar caught in the deep for 90, the rest were simply unable to find the fence when required. The differences in the number of sixes scored by both sides was telling- South Africa scored 11 in their innings, but Pakistan managed just 2 through the course of their 20 overs.
Morris got rid of both Hussain Talat and Imad Wasim in the same over, leaving the visitors 15 to get off the final six balls. Miller tossed the ball to Phehlukwayo, his team mate at the Dolphins, and the latter held his nerve to give the hosts a victory in this thriller.
South Africa (188/3) beat Pakistan (181/7) by 7 runs.
Man of the Match: David Miller (RSA) for his 29 ball 65.