Today was a clinical performance by Pakistan and a great finish to the T20 series for the Men in Green. Pakistan cricket team won the first T20I match with a very narrow margin of 3 runs however, South Africa was very competitive in the first T20. In the second T20I match South Africans took Pakistan by surprise and shocked them with a comprehensive win by six wickets. The series was leveled and had to be settled in the final T20I match in Lahore today.
Babar Azam won the toss for the first time in the series and to no surprise opted to bowl first. As the city of Lahore has a “Dew factor” which has a massive impact on the 2nd innings. Bowlers find it tough to grip the wet ball and the out field is quicker due to wet grass. Fielding also becomes ever so difficult under lights in such wet conditions and ball comes on nicely on to the bat. Therefore it was a huge bonus for Pakistan to finally win the toss in the final and bowl first.
Pakistan made all the right changes in Playing XI for the final T20I. They brought in one extra spinner and decided to play three regular spinners in a T20 squad. A rarity ! but it proved to be an excellent decision as spinners took full advantage of the conditions and got early wickets. At one point Pakistan had taken 7 South African wickets for just 67 runs on the board.
The debutant Zahid Mehmood was exceptionally good and took three wickets in his first over. There was an appeal for the fourth one which was given by the on field umpire but then overturned after a successful review by SA. Muhammad Nawaz was once again good with the bowl and took the first wicket of inform Hendricks. Hassan Ali who was included as a replacement of Haris Rauf bowled very well in the first spell and got two key wickets. Everything was going perfectly fine for Pakistan until Miller came in and changed the complexion of the game.
David Miller came in to bat when South Africa was struggling big time with the bat. They were already 7 down but Miller took the charge and started countering Pakistan’s bowling straight away. Miller stuck seven massive sixes and five fours and scored 85 runs on just 45 balls with a strike rate of 188. He took Faheem Ashraf’s last over of the innings for 25 runs by hitting four massive sixes in the last over. South Africa which was once looking to be bowled out below 100 made a very competitive total of 164 runs.
Pakistan made a change in the batting order by sending Muhammad Rizwan and Haider Ali to open the innings. Babar Azam who usually opens the innings for Pakistan came one down in order to tackle the Shamsi threat.
Pakistan started of really well and the opening partnership was more than 50 runs in the powerplay. It was looking all too easy for Pakistan until Tabraiz Shamsi came in to bowl. He got Haider Ali in his first over and then kept on taking wickets at crucial stages of the chase. Shamsi took 4 wickets including priced wicket of Muhammad Rizwan who once again showcased his talent and ability to score freely in T20Is. Muhammad Rizwan fell short of his half century and scored 42 runs before getting out LBW while trying to sweep a fuller delivery from Shamsi.
Pakistan’s captain and premier batsman came back in form in the final match of the T20 series and scored 44 runs on 30 balls. At one stage Pakistan had lost their Key batsmen including Babar and Faheem and the lower order had to strike big to reach the target which they did ever so successfully. Thanks to some wonderful hitting from Muhammad Nawaz and Hassan Ali who scored scored 30 runs between them. Hassan Ali stoked the winning runs with a huge sixer on the on side winning the match and the series for Pakistan one over before. Pakistan wont he match by 4 wickets with 8 balls to spare. This meant that Pakistan also won the T20 series 2-1. This was South Africa’s first T20 series defeat in Asia by Pakistan.
It was a remarkable tour for Pakistan cricket team with will tour South Africa in coming month for a ODI and T20 series.
Also Read: Pakistan tour of South Africa 2021 April
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