Pakistan vs South Africa – 3rd T20 – A True Team Effort Leads to History
It is only fitting that a team that has just achieved its world cricket leading 100th T20 International victory would require an absolute team effort.
In a must win encounter for both teams, Pakistan finally got the opportunity to bowl first in the series. With less dew to contend with early on Mohammad Nawaz, the eventual man of the match, made the key breakthrough of South Africa’s leading run scorer in the series, Reeza Hendricks. A ball that gripped and turned to take Reeza’s leg stump brought the momentum Pakistan’s way. It was capitalized on in a big way as South African batsman after batsman went in a procession to the grip and turn that the Gaddafi Stadium pitch was providing and it was looking like an early finish as they tumbled to 63/7 . The debutant Zahid Mahmood highlighted that period producing a wonderful spell filled with guile as his googlies bamboozled the South African Middle order.
However, the South Africans were not about to go down without a fight as their most experienced campaigner David Miller came to spoil the party in a big way. He took full toll of everyone in front of him as he smashed 85 off 45 balls highlighted by 7 sixes and 5 fours to recover a dire situation into an imposing 164/8.
Pakistan, to its credit, were not fazed by the challenge as they put up their highest batting PowerPlay start of the series with 51/0 and looked well set to chase down the target with ease. Tabraiz Shamsi had other ideas though as he bowled the spell of the match with 4-0-25-4 including the wicket of Pakistan’s talisman Mohammad Rizwan for 42 who tried to sweep a delivery far too full for the shot.
It was a sticky situation when Pakistan were left needing about 90 runs in 11 overs with two new batsman at the crease and the South African bowlers choking up the runs. Babar Azam, who has been completely off color this series, answered the call with a vintage calming presence that has always been associated with his batting. He played risk free cricket as he compiled 44 key runs. By the time he was adjudged LBW the back of the chase had been broken.
The criticism of Babar not seeing chases through will still remain though and could have been magnified to an incredible extent as Pakistan fell to 137/6 following the wicket of in-form Faheem Ashraf and needing 28 off the final 3 overs.
It was not to be though as South Africa opted for pace to end off the innings, hoping for an encore performance from their previous match’s 5 wicket haul man Dwaine Pretorius, and it backfired immediately. Mohammad Nawaz followed up his clutch bowling at the start of the match with even more clutch batting at the end of the match. In a brisk 20 off 11, Nawaz partnered with Hasan Ali, as the pair hit 3 fours and 2 sixes in a period of 8 balls from Pretorious and Phehlukwayo to finish the match off in style and cap off Pakistan’s 100th T20 International victory!
Mohammad Nawaz won Man of the Match for his all round performance while Mohammad Rizwan continues his insane form across all formats as he picked up the Man of the Series award to go along with his previous Test series one.
Mission accomplished for Pakistan and now it is time to party!
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