CENTURION – Pakistan earned reward at the end of a tour in which they’d shown plenty of skill and endeavour, but have been let down by their consistency, with a 27-run victory over the Proteas on Wednesday night.
This was by no means a polished performance in the final T20 International, but it was as entertaining as Pakistan’s cricket has been throughout this tour.
They included Mohammad Amir (3/27) for the first time in the series, and that call lent the attack better balance.
Pakistan’s overall performance with the ball was disciplined, starting in the Power Play, where Shaheen Afridi and Imad Wasim took wickets.
That kept the South Africans in check, with Imad backing up the 1/9 he took at the Wanderers by picking up 1/19 at SuperSport Park.
South Africa finished the period with the fielding restrictions having scored at just four runs an over, losing openers Janneman Malan and Reeza Hendricks in the process.
That start put pressure on the South African middle-order, and while David Miller (13) and Rassie van der Dussen (41) produced some good shots, they were unable to sustain the required rate for long enough.
Once Van der Dussen was out in the 12th over, the game really was up for the hosts. Chris Morris produced some lusty hitting to finish on 55 not out (29 balls, 5×4, 3×6), indicating he might be worth a place in the 15-man World Cup squad.
The Proteas’ bowling was a mixed bag, with Beuran Hendricks the stand-out, mixing up pace and length to upset the Pakistani batsmen’s rhythm.
The others struggled for consistency, although in the case of Tabraiz Shamsi, it was the result of the Pakistanis getting after him.
Hendricks bowled through all the pressure periods in the innings – the power play and then the ‘death’ – finishing with 4/14, the best figures for a South African against Pakistan in the shortest format.
There was to be no batting bonanza from Babar Azam in what was his final innings of the tour.
The right-hander has played beautifully across all formats, and looked largely in control against the best that South Africa’s bowlers could throw at him this summer.
He spanked five fours in a quick-fire 23, but it’s a sign of how important he has been for Pakistan on this tour that their innings went in fits and starts after his dismissal. The top score was Mohammad Rizwan’s 26, with Asif Ali’s 25 the next best for the tourists.
There was a first international wicket for Lutho Sipamla, but he wasn’t as disciplined as he was on debut at the weekend, while Morris and Imad got into a verbal stoush, with the big South African not happy about being hit for back-to-back boundaries.
Massive final over for the visitors. Shadab Khan’s (22*) three sixes helps Pakistan to 168/9 after 20 overs.
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) February 6, 2019
The umpires lengthened the innings, taking six minutes before eventually deciding that Shoaib Malik was run out.
Pakistan seemed to be falling apart through the latter stages of their innings, losing six wickets for 57 in eight overs.
But Shadab Khan rescued them. Andile Phehlukwayo had talked sagely last Sunday of how there would be days when he wouldn’t be the hero as he was at the Wanderers, when he conceded just seven runs in the final over to take the Proteas to victory.
In the last over on Wednesday, he went for 21, with Shadab hitting three sixes in the 20th over.