Babar brilliance floors Proteas in third T20 game
Earlier South Africa posted 203 with openers Aiden Markram and Janneman Malan partnering for a century stand for the first wicket.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam celebrates his century in the third T20 game against South Africa at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Wednesday. Picture: Lee Warren/Gallo Images
Babar Azam amassed a host of records as he put the wayward South African bowling to the sword in the third T20 International at Centurion on Wednesday, leading Pakistan to a nine-wicket victory with two overs to spare.
The Proteas were defending a seemingly decent total of 203 for five, their highest ever against Pakistan, but they did not have a prayer as they turned in a poor bowling performance and Babar was simply majestic as he stroked 122 off just 59 balls.
It was the captain’s first T20I century, the fastest ever for Pakistan in just 49 balls, and the country’s highest ever individual score. It saw the tourists romp home in their biggest ever successful chase. He was ably assisted by the prolific Mohammad Rizwan, who struck another punishing 73 not out off 47 deliveries. Their opening stand of 197 off only 107 balls was the highest in any T20 between the established Test nations, and the fourth best of all time.
On a good batting pitch, the Proteas lacked penetration and could only create half-chances, that left them begging “no mas” before long as Babar and Rizwan took advantage of a timid display in the field, turning in a masterclass of batting.
Earlier, Proteas fans had been purring with delight as South Africa’s openers, Aiden Markram and Janneman Malan, slipped into top gear and led South Africa to what seemed a commanding total.
Markram and Malan are arguably the Proteas’ second-choice opening pair after Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma, but they batted brilliantly in their opening stand of 108 off just 65 balls, both making career-best scores.
Markram, who was only a late inclusion in the T20 squad after Bavuma tore a hamstring in the ODI series, became just the second South African batsman after Hashim Amla in 2016 to score three successive fifties in T20 cricket as he belted 63 off just 31 deliveries with four sixes. He has proven in this series that he can do the power-opener job most capably.
Malan went on to hammer 55 off 40 balls, also doing a fine job for the team as he batted through to the 15th over. Both openers played mostly classical strokes with exceptional timing, but they also improvised superbly.
Left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz (2-38) removed both openers but George Linde, promoted up the order, brought some x-factor batting as he belted 22 off 11 deliveries and the returning Rassie van der Dussen scored an explosive 34 not out off 20 balls.
South Africa’s total, their best ever against Pakistan, beating the 192 for six they made at Newlands in 2018/19, was however no match as Babar massacred them in the field.