Sports desk: A clinical bowling performance gave Pakistan a consolation win in the final T20I in Centurion, which also happened to be the final game on what has been a disappointing tour for the visitors. Having already lost the series in all three formats, Pakistan were hopeful of picking up just their third win on the tour and despite a shaky batting performance, their bowling attack came to the fore to hand them a comfortable 27-run win.
Reeza Hendricks smashed a boundary to begin the chase of 169 in exciting fashion but it was Pakistan who came out on top in the powerplay overs. Shaheen Afridi pitched one on a good length forcing Hendricks to play a shot early, which he ended up hitting back to the bowler. In the next over, Imad Wasim continued to torment Janneman Malan and broke his defence with a delivery that just came back in with the arm. Rassie van der Dussen and Heinrich Klaasen struggled to find the boundary despite the field restrictions as the hosts made only 24 in the powerplay.
Klaasen’s misery was ended by Mohammad Amir, who returned to the side and ended up picking the wicket off the very first ball he bowled. David Miller, who has been in excellent form off late, started off in fine fashion by picking up a couple of boundaries off the same over post Klaasen’s wicket. The South African skipper was clearly the key during the second half of the innings especially with the required rate going past 10. Shadab Khan then firmly put his side in charge by bowling one full that Miller wanted to slog sweep but could only get a top edge that was pouched by the bowler himself. Van der Dussen, who had redeemed himself with a few boundaries after the initial struggle was the next batsman to miscue a shot and perish to hand Faheem Ashraf his first wicket. After 12 overs, South Africa needed 96 off 48 balls, placing their hopes on their two allrounders.
Shadab further dented South Africa by bowling a seam up delivery to Phehlukwayo, who missed the ball completely while attempting a reverse sweep to get trapped plumb in front. The left-hander wasted a review which seemed to be more of a desperate one than logical considering the ball was nowhere closer to the bat. Chris Morris then targetted Faheem Ashraf to fetch 21 runs of an over and eventually ended up scoring the only fifty of the game but a lack of support at the other end ensured that Pakistan finished the tour on a happy note.
Earlier in the evening, Babar Azam gave South Africa a scare once again by making a cracking start after David Miller asked Pakistan to bat first. With Pakistan scoring only one run in the opening over, Azam smashed four boundaries off the second over timing the ball very sweetly as he did in the second game. But South Africa managed to end his stay immediately and cut off the threat when he cut a short ball off Morris to get caught by Malan. Fakhar Zaman then took over by hitting Lutho Sipamla for a couple of fours and a six as Pakistan raced to 45 in just four overs. But in the final over of the powerplay, Zaman perished while attempting to take on Beuran Hendricks as a miscued shot didn’t clear the third man.
Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Rizwan then steadied the ship and ensured there was no collapse up until the halfway mark. With both batsmen set, Pakistan would have eyed around 100 more runs to get the final score upto 180 but Rizwan first perished while attempting to accelerate, giving Lutho Sipamla his first international wicket. Four balls later, the visitors were handed a massive blow when a terrible mix up in the middle of the pitch cost Malik his wicket. Hussain Talat followed suit in the very next over when he edged Phehlukwayo behind in tame fashion while trying to make room and smash the bowler.
Imad and Asif Ali gave Pakistan hope and remained the key during the slog overs but South Africa once again staged a strong comeback as Hendricks managed to wipe out the lower order. But with only over remaining in the innings, Shadab chanced his arm against Phehlukwayo and fetched three sixes to carry his side to 168, a total they didn’t look like reaching at one stage.
Brief scores: Pakistan 168/9 in 20 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 26; Beuran Hendricks 4-14, Chris Morris 2-27) beat South Africa 141/9 in 20 overs (Chris Morris 55*, Rassie van der Dussen 41; Mohammad Amir 3-27) by 27 runs