Rizwan's first T20I century gives Pakistan 1-0 win in series opener
LAHORE – Amaiden T20I century from Mohammad Rizwan helped Pakistan to victory in the first game of the three-match series in Lahore.
Rizwan carried his bat with a brilliant 104* as the hosts posted 169/6 in the first innings, with Haider Ali the next highest scorer for Pakistan on just 21.
The hundred was Rizwan’s first in international T20 cricket and only the second ever by a Pakistan batter – following in the footsteps of Ahmad Shahzad’s 111* against Bangladesh in 2014.
South Africa stuttered in their reply after the openers Janneman Malan and Reeza Hendricks had put on 53 for the first wicket.
Malan fell to a beautiful delivery from Usman Qadir for 44, beaten by the turn and bounce and clean bowled. And Qadir picked up a second with another googly in his next over, rattling the stumps of Jacques Snyman to leave the Proteas on 61/2.
Qadir finished with figures of 2/21 off his four overs as the slow bowlers stemmed the flow of runs in the middle overs. And Pakistan looked like they were cruising to an easy win until a late flurry of runs from Dwaine Pretorius (15 from 6) and Bjorn Fortuin (17 from 9) saw the tourists come up just three runs short.
Earlier, Rizwan’s outstanding century had held together the Pakistan innings as wickets fell around him, with some brilliant fielding stunting the hosts’ progress throughout the opening 10 overs.
Babar Azam departed to just the second ball, setting off for a quick single and falling victim to a stunning piece of fielding from Fortuin. The 26-year-old swept in and knocked down the stumps with just one to aim for, with Pakistan’s skipper well short of making his ground.
Haider Ali and Rizwan steered Pakistan through the majority of the powerplay, but a brilliant catch in the deep from Snyman on his T20I debut did for Ali. And Hussain Talat’s lively 15 from 11 balls came to an abrupt end off Tabraiz Shamsi’s second ball, with Heinrich Klaasen whipping off the bails and the TV umpire adjudging that Talat's foot was not grounded.
Shamsi’s tidy four-over spell of 1/20 in the middle overs saw Pakistan struggle to keep up their early momentum. But Rizwan kept the score ticking over, before hitting 23 off his last nine deliveries, going to his hundred off the third ball of the final over with a towering six over deep midwicket.
That late flurry ultimately proved decisive, with South Africa still requiring 19 from their final over. A flicked six from Pretorius gave them a chance, but Faheem Ashraf went through his variations and left Fortuin needing an unlikely 10 to win off the last two deliveries.
A clever scooped four down to the fine-leg boundary took the game to the last ball, but Fortuin failed to find the ropes as Pakistan held on to go 1-0 up in the three-match series. –ICC