A valiant effort from Reeza Hendricks went in vain as South Africa slump to a narrow three-run loss in the first T20 International (T20I) at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore. The night, however, belonged to Mohammad Rizwan, who scored his maiden T20I century and became only the second Pakistan batsman to reach three figures in the shortest format after Ahmed Shehzad. His century propelled Pakistan to 169 for 6, but he barely got any help from the other end. Haider Ali with 21 was the second highest scorer of the innings. Rizwan's wicketkeeping too did not disappoint as he held a catch and acrobatically ran out South Africa’s highest scorer Hendricks.
It did not start all that well for Pakistan, who lost their skipper Babar Azam for a duck. A brilliant effort from Bjorn Fortuin saw Babar run out of the first ball to join an unfortunate list.
Pakistan reached 45 for 2 in the first six overs, thanks to Haider Ai’s 16-ball 21, which included three sixes. But in the next four overs, the hosts managed only 28 more runs for the loss of one wicket. That is when Rizwan completely took over. From going at run-a-ball till the end of the 10th over, Rizwan hit three sixes of the next over to shift the momentum in Pakistan’s favour. While wickets were falling at the other end, he carried on, rode his luck and brought up his maiden T20I century off just 63 deliveries. Pakistan managed to score 98 runs from their final 10 overs, which included 46 runs from their last five.
In reply, South Africa got off to an excellent start, thanks to Janneman Malan (44) as that propelled South Africa to 51 for no loss in the powerplay. However, the introduction of leg-spinner Usman Qadir changed the game completely. He first dismissed Malan in his first over and in his next over, he got rid of Snyman for two after the batsman initially struggled to pick the leggie, who then cleaned the batsman up with a googly. South Africa added just 15 more runs between overs seven and 10 and needed 104 more runs to win from the final 10 overs.
After struggling initially, Hendricks slowly started to get into the groove, first hitting Qadir for a couple of boundaries and then tore into Faheem Ashraf, who he dispatched for a hat-trick of fours. He got to his fifth T20I fifty off 38 deliveries and was going to be key for South Africa from there on. But some brilliant work behind the wickets from Rizwan saw him run out for 54. South Africa needed 37 off 16 from there. Fortuin and Dwaine Pretorius then took on the challenge and kept the Proteas in the game. However, they needed 19 from the final over.
Ashraf was handed the responsibility of bowling the final over. A six of the third ball and then a boundary off the fifth meant, South Africa needed a six from the final ball. Ashraf then held on to his nerves and bowled right at Fortuin’s toes, who squeezed out just for a couple.
Pakistan went 1-0 up in the three-match T20I series after completing a 2-0 whitewash in the Tests. The two teams will now clash on Saturday (February 13) for the second T20I at the same venue.
Pakistan 169 for 6 in 20 Overs (Mohammad Rizwan 104*; Andile Phehlukwayo 2 for 33) beat South Africa 166 for 6 in 20 Overs (Reeza Hendricks 54; Usman Qadir 2 for 21) by 3 runs.
Player of the match: Mohammad Rizwan