Mohammad Rizwan's splendid 104-run knock propelled Pakistan to victory in the first Twenty20 International against South Africa at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Thursday, Pakistan’s Dawn reports.
It was Rizwan's highest-ever score in a T20I match and helped Pakistan set a respectable target for the visitors after the hosts suffered a loss early on when captain Babar Azam was run out in the very first over, according to the report.
Earlier, South Africa won the toss and elected to field first against the hosts, according to the Pakistani newspaper.
Pakistan suffered an early loss when their talisman Babar Azam was run out by Bjorn Fortuin on the second ball of the match for a duck, Dawn reports.
The hosts struggled to find their footing, losing Haider Ali at the start of the sixth over when he was caught out by Jacques Snyman off Andile Phehlukwayo's ball. Haider was replaced by Hussain Talat at the pitch who tried to swiftly pick up runs, hitting two consecutive fours and scoring 15 runs off nine balls, the report says.
He lost his wicket in the 10th over, leaving Pakistan struggling to build momentum, according to the report.
Mohammad Rizwan brought much-needed stability for the hosts, hitting three sixes in one over to complete his half-century, his second in T20Is, the newspaper reports.
Pakistan lost their fourth wicket in the 13th over as South Africa continued their flawless fielding as Iftikhar Ahmed was caught out by Reeza Hendricks off Fortuin's ball, according to Dawn.
Khushdil Shah, who replaced Iftikhar, played it safe before hitting a huge six in the 17th over. He tried to hit another boundary on the next ball but was caught out by Fortuin instead, the report says.
Faheem Ashraf was caught out by Miller on Phehlukwayo's ball in the 18th over, according to the report.
South Africa innings
South Africa were off to a solid start, having managed to score 44 runs with zero loss of wickets at the end of five overs, Dawn further reports.
Haris Rauf's over proved to be the most expensive for the hosts as the Proteas scored 18 runs off the six balls, according to the report.
Leg-spinner Usman Qadir took the first wicket for Pakistan as he bowled out Janneman Malan in the seventh over, the report mentions.
He took Jacques Snyman's wicket too in the ninth over with a brilliantly bowled googly. Faheem Ashraf took the third wicket for Pakistan when David Miller was caught out by wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan, according to the report.
However, the report points out, Faheem's luck ran out in the next over he bowled with South African batsmen hitting three consecutive boundaries.
The Proteas lost their fourth wicket when captain Heinrich Klaasen was caught out by Hussain Talat on Rauf's ball. Reeza Hendricks was run out in the 18th over when he misjudged and ran out of his crease while Andile Phehlukwayo stayed out, according to the report.
The visitors lost their next wicket in the same over as Phehlukwayo was caught out, according to the reports.
Pakistan entered the game after sweeping a two-match Test series 2-0 against the Proteas and look to be the favourites in the three-match T20 series, the newspaper reports.
In the lead-up to the ongoing home series against South Africa, the Pakistan team and its management faced a lot of criticism after disastrous off-shore series results in Australia (November 2019), England (August 2020) and recently in New Zealand (Dec-Jan 2020-21). At one stage the jobs of head coach Misbahul Haq and bowling coach Waqar Younis were at stake. However, the report adds, the home Test series victory against South Africa has come as a breath of fresh air for the PCB, the team and its management, according to the Dawn report.
South Africa hold a slight edge over Pakistan in their head-to-head T20 record. The former have won eight games out of 14 while the Green Shirts came out victorious in six. Pakistan lost the three-match series 2-1 when they last faced the Proteas in a T20 rubber staged in their backyard in February 2019, the report mentions.
The second and third T20 matches of the series, according to the report, will be staged on Saturday and Sunday, also at Gaddafi Stadium.