Rizwan century helps Pakistan beat South Africa in first T20I

Wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan smashed a maiden T20 century with seven sixes as Pakistan beat South Africa by three runs in the first Twenty20 international.

Mohammad Rizwan celebrates after notching up his hundred in the first T20I against South Africa.   -  AP Photo

Wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan smashed a maiden T20 century with seven sixes as Pakistan beat South Africa by three runs in the first Twenty20 international on Thursday.

Rizwan’s unbeaten 104 off 64 balls anchored the home team to 169-6 after Heinrich Klaasen won the toss and elected to field. In the process, Rizwan became only the second Pakistan batsman to score a hundred in all three formats.

An inexperienced South Africa, without its frontline T20 regulars including skipper Quinton de Kock, put up a hard fight with Reeza Hendricks making 54 and Janneman Malan making 44 off 29 balls before being restricted at 166-6.

“Credit goes to the spinners, especially Usman Qadir, who picked up two quick wickets,” Pakistan skipper Babar Azam said.

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Qadir (2-21) picked up both his wickets in his first two overs, including Malan getting bowled off a googly, and Rizwan ran out Hendricks in the 18th over to make things difficult for the lower order.

Needing 19 off the last over, Bjorn Fortuin (17 not out) and Dwaine Pretorius (15 not out) brought down the target to 6 off the last ball but Faheem Ashraf conceded just two runs to give Pakistan a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

“I’m a little bit disappointed,” Klaasen said. “The lack of batting intensity for four overs there in the middle cost us a little bit. The intensity needs to lift there in the middle (overs) and we’ll see if we can get it right in the second game.”

Earlier, Rizwan carried his Test form into the shortest format and dominated both pace and leftarm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi. Rizwan scored a century at Rawalpindi last Sunday as Pakistan beat South Africa by 95 runs to clinch the series 2-0.

He continued his sublime form despite Pakistan having an early setback when Babar was splendidly run out by leftarm spinner Fortuin in the first over.

Fortuin ran quickly to his right off his follow through and threw the ball from his right hand to the non-striker’s end to leave the Pakistan captain well short of his crease.

But Rizwan dominated with his pull shots, drives and sweeps. He raised his half-century off 35 balls when he hit seamer Junior Dala for three sixes in an over.

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Rizwan was twice let off the hook in the last two overs. Dala couldn’t hold on to a chance in the deep offered by Rizwan on 89 and Jacques Snyman, playing his first Twenty20 international, dropped the batsman on 96.

Rizwan, who also hit six fours, lofted Andile Phehlukwayo (2-33) for his seventh six over midwicket to complete the hundred in the last over.

The seven sixes was also a Pakistan record in a Twenty20 international, surpassing Mohammad Hafeez and Shehzad’s six sixes in an innings.

Malan provided a brisk start by smashing fast bowler Haris Rauf for four boundaries in an over, but Pakistan struck through Qadir and Rauf returned to pick up 2-44.

The second and third games will be played at the same venue over the weekend.

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