Babar Azam scores ton as Pakistan beats South Africa in last-ball thriller

Babar Azam scored 103 off 104 deliveries as Pakistan defeated South Africa by three wickets in the first ODI in Centurion.

Babar Azam plays a drive en route to his 103 in Centurion on Friday.   -  AP

Babar Azam's century set up Pakistan's three-wicket victory over South Africa in the first One-Day International on Friday, although the tourist still needed to scramble a run off the final ball to win. The Pakistan captain hit 103 off 104 balls and his team was cruising at 186 for 1 at SuperSport Park after South Africa scored 273 for 6 in its 50 overs.

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Azam's dismissal sparked a slump as Pakistan lost four wickets for 17 runs, all of them to fast bowler Anrich Nortje. Still, Pakistan only needed three runs off the final over. But Shadab Khan (33) fell to the first ball of that last over and South Africa seamer Andile Phehlukwayo bowled another three dot balls to heighten the tension.

Faheem Ashraf finally made contact off the fifth ball with a chip over the bowler's head for two. He flicked the final ball of the game through cover for a single to reach 274 for 7 and put Pakistan 1-0 up in the three-game series.

Azam's was the game-winning innings. He was supported by 70 from opener Imam-ul-Haq and they shared a fabulous partnership of 177 for the second wicket after Pakistan was 9 for 1.

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Nortje's burst of four wickets threatened to undo the work of Azam and Imam as Pakistan slipped to 203 for 5.

Mohammad Rizwan led the recovery with his 40, and Shadab's contribution at the end was also vital.

Earlier, Pakistan put South Africa in to bat and made instant progress to have the home team struggling at 55 for 4. South Africa's innings was rescued by 123 not out from Rassie van der Dussen and 50 by David Miller. The Proteas' total was still below par.

South Africa was being led by new limited-overs captain Temba Bavuma for the first time. Bavuma made history as the first Black African to be appointed captain of South Africa.

 

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