CAPE TOWN: Shoaib Malik put up a brave fight playing a marvellous 49-run inning on 31 deliveries, but Pakistan fell 6 runs short that give South Africa a 1-0 lead in the series.
As Pakistan came out to chase 193 runs, Fakhar Zaman looked to hit everything for six, he managed to strike a four off the first delivery of Beuran Hendricks, kept his nerves and forced Zaman to edge one to slip cordon.
However, Babar Azam looked in supreme touch, he was timing the ball from the word go. On the other hand, Hussain Talat also showed the glimpses of his capabilities as the raised 50-run stand.
Hussain Talat was playing a fine inning, but he struggled to score boundaries. With a large total on the board to chase, the left-handed batsman had to play out of his skin to keep the run rate in check, eventually in strive to accelerate the scoring rate, he lost his wicket after scoring 40 off 32 deliveries.
Soon after Talat made his way back to the hut, Babar Azam became a victim of David Miller’s brilliant fielding effort, which caught the right-handed batsman short of his crease, he scored 38 (27).
As the hosts managed to break the partnership between Talat and Babar, it opened the gate for them. They took little time to get rid of Babar, Asif Ali, Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf and Mohammad Rizwan. They slipped from 93/3 to 152/7 in no time.
Despite losing partners, Shoaib Malik stayed at the crease, kept his mind cool and fought lonely to bring the game to an exciting point where Pakistan needed 16 runs off the last over. But, his heroics went in vain as he got out on the third delivery of the over with his team still needing 14 runs off 3 balls.
Shadab Khan tried his best to take Pakistan home, but it was too big an ask for the youngster, a boundary off the fourth delivery made the contest a nail-biter as Pakistan needed 10 from two deliveries. However, Khan managed four runs on the last two balls that got them a win by six wickets.
Earlier, Shoaib Malik, the stand-in captain of Pakistan, won the toss and elected to bowl first in the first T20I of the three-match series against South Africa. Imad Wasim gave Pakistan the first breakthrough by removing Gihahn Cloete on 13 (12) courtesy of a fantastic catch from Shadab Khan. However, after losing the first wicket, Faf du Plessis and Reeza Hendricks took on the Pakistani bowlers and eyed scoring quick runs. Both the batsmen looked in fine touch and raised their half-centuries on 29 and 31 deliveries, followed by their century-stand.
Faf du Plessis carried on his assault after raising his half-century, he was looking in complete control and it seemed like he can hit every ball out of the park. But a slow full-toss from Usman Shinwari brought South African skipper’s end, who found his counterpart, Shoaib Malik at mid-wicket after scoring 78 off 58 deliveries.
Proteas’ young sensation, Rassie van der Dussen could not create an impact as he got out on a duck, courtesy of a screamer from the wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan.
Reeza Hendricks looked in phenomenal touch, it took an outstanding catch from the young Shadab Khan to dismiss him after scoring 74 off 41 balls. It looked like South Africa will cruise over 200 easily, but Pakistani bowlers made an impressive comeback at the backend of the inning to restrict South Africa to 192/6.
In the last five overs, Pakistan conceded 50 runs and took five wickets to keep South Africa below 200.
Usman Shinwari shined with the ball, taking 3 wickets for 31, while Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf and Hasan Ali took one wicket apiece.
Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Hussain Talat, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Shoaib Malik (c), Asif Ali, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Usman Shinwari
Reeza Hendricks, Gihahn Cloete (wk) Faf du Plessis (c), Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen, Andile Phehlukwayo, Chris Morris, Beuran Hendricks, Junior Dala, Tabraiz Shamsi