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Mohammad Rizwan stars with maiden T20I hundred in narrow Pakistan victory

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Mohammad Rizwan became only the second Pakistan batsmen to score a T20I hundred and contributed more than 60% of his team’s total as they edged out South Africa by three runs in a thrilling first T20I. No one else in the Pakistan line-up scored more than Haider Ali’s 21 and the rest of the line-up combined scored just 59 runs off 56 balls; Rizwan on his own accounted for an unbeaten 104 off 64.

South Africa used seven bowlers, only introducing some of their frontline operators such as Junior Dala and Tabraiz Shamsi as the Pakistan innings approached the halfway mark, and all but Shamsi struggled for consistency. The quicks struggled to control a wet ball in the dew and lacked the pace usually associated with a South African pack.

It ended up being much tighter than Pakistan fancied, coming down to the final ball, off which Bjorn Fortuin needed six. He could only manage to get it down to square leg for a couple, giving Pakistan the spoils by a narrow margin.

Rizwan rewarded

Rizwan is having the best week of his cricketing career. And its only Thursday. On Sunday, he scored his first Test century to set Pakistan up for a series win over South Africa. Here, he topped that up with his first T20 century. This was Rizwan’s second successive score over 80 in T20 internationals and was a particularly well-paced innings.

He scored seven runs off the first 11 balls he faced, with no boundaries, ticked along to 31 off 30 and then feasted on Dala’s shorter length to reach 50 off 35 balls. The acceleration came when he smoked three sixes in Dala’s second over including two smashes over backward square leg in consecutive balls and a clean loft over long-off to bring up his half-century. He dominated the rest of the innings, gleefully sweeping Shamsi and punishing full tosses from Andile Phehlukwayo.

South Africa used their first review against him when Shamsi appealed for an lbw off a ball that seemed to be spinning past leg stump. Ball-tracking confirmed that Rizwan, on 61 at the time, was safe. In the next over, Dwaine Pretorius thought he had Rizwan caught behind but the sound seemed to come from the thigh-pad. Rizwan swatted Pretorius’ next ball over midwicket for six.

He was dropped twice on his way to a hundred and played some risky strokes, including a top edge over fine leg off Lutho Sipamla, but reached three-figures with a glorious shot off a Phehlukwayo slower ball, the 63rd he faced, that Rizwan sent over deep midwicket.

South Africa – the fielders – are back. Maybe. South Africa dropped at least seven catches across the two Tests and suffered four run-outs, much to the dismay of head coach Mark Boucher who acknowledged Pakistan’s superiority in the fielding department. The T20 squad knew they needed to do better and it only took two balls before they demonstrated their commitment to an improved showing.

Bjorn Fortuin, who was given the new ball, ran to the leg side to collect a Babar Azam nudge and spotted an opportunity to put the Pakistan captain under pressure. Fortuin slid, picked up and threw, aiming at one stump and lying almost flat on the floor. He caught Babar by surprise, well short of his ground, to dismiss him for a first-ball duck.

Then, in the last over of the Powerplay, Haider Ali picked a Phehlukwayo slower ball up and attempted to flick it over deep square. Debutant Jacques Snyman took a running catch on the rope with both hands before releasing one to steady himself as he hit the ground.

The ball stayed in his other hand and Haider was dismissed for 21. That was not the end of their sharp efforts in the field. Shamsi was brought on to bowl the 10th over and found sharp turn immediately. His second ball spun past Hussain Talat, who came forward to defend, and Heinrich Klaasen whipped off the bails.

 It looked as though Talat may have got some of his back boot on to the ground as the bails were dislodged but TV umpire Shozab Raza disagreed and Klaasen was rewarded for swift work.

It didn’t all go their way, though. In the penultimate over of the match, Dala let a chance off Rizwan slip through his hands at deep midwicket and Reeza Hendricks, who tried to clean up, ended up touching the rope with his foot to give away four runs. The misfields sent Rizwan into the 90s.

In the next over, Rizwan hit Phehlukwayo over cover, where Snyman had to jump to take a relatively simple catch. He only managed to palm it up and over, to leave Rizwan two away from his hundred.

Janneman is not an Urdu name, but he seems at home in Pakistan

In the Afrikaans tradition, young men named Jan are often affectionately called Janneman. In Urdu, Janneman means sweetheart. Whichever way you look at it there’s a lot of love for South Africa opener Janneman Malan.

He survived first over nerves, when he edged Mohammed Nawaz past Rizwan for four and was found to have inside-edged a delivery that hit his back pad which Pakistan reviewed for lbw, and took South Africa through the Powerplay unscathed.