It was Babar-Rizwan show at Centurion as the duo helped Pakistan register a resounding win over South Africa. The men in green chased down 204 in the 18th over to go 2-1 up in the series.

Just two days back Babar Azam was under fire for scoring a run a ball fifty but he made amends for that with one of the greatest knocks in the T20 format. The Pakistani skipper made a 59 ball 122 to canter his team to victory with 15 boundaries and four sixes. His partner, Muhammad Rizwan wasn’t silent at the other end and blasted 73 off just 47 balls as South African bowlers were taken to the cleaners.

During the process, they notched up Pakistan’s highest partnership for any wicket in the shortest format. Babar and Rizwan made 197 off just 107 balls beating the previous best of Muhammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad 143 against Bangladesh. Keeping in mind what happened in the last outing, Pakistan started the chase cautiously with scoring 11 in the first two overs but the runs started coming once Babar launched an assault over George Linde by coming down the track to him. After that there was no stopping the both right-handers as they brought 64 runs in the powerplay.

Earlier in the day Babar Azam dethroned Virat Kohli to become the number one ranked player in the 50 over format and he showed why he is a force to reckon with in the shortest format as well. Such was his form that he was finding gaps at will. South African bowlers threw everything at him but to no avail. Although the Proteas bowlers were no way near what they did in the second game but even when they hit the mark, Azam scored off that too.

Babar reached his maiden T20I hundred by dispatching Tabraiz Shamsi for a four through the cover region but fell just when Pakistan needed seven to win trying to upper cut the ball. Fakhar Zaman faced just two balls and hit two boundaries to give Pakistan a comfortable win

Earlier, South Africa posted a mammoth 203 on the back of half-centuries from openers Aiden Markram and Janneman Malan. Both openers took the attack to Pakistani bowlers from the start. Shaheen was dispatched for a six and four in his second over. Hasan Ali went for 19th in his first over.

Aiden Markram cashed on his rich vein of form as he brought up his third consecutive fifty of the series off just 25 balls, to bring up South Africa’s 100 in 10 overs. Just when the home team were looking to shift into another gear, Muhammad Nawaz provided a crucial breakthrough by dismissing Markram on 63.

South Africa promoted all-rounder George Linde to counter the spin threat from Nawaz who was aggressive from the wordl go and dispatched Nawaz for a six over his head. Malan continued to accelerate as he brought up his fifty in just 36 balls.

Faheem Ashraf ended Linde’s 22-run cameo from 11 balls, as the left-hander chopped the ball to his stumps. Malan was eventually caught by Faheem Ashraf for 55, handing Nawaz his second wicket of the match.

South Africa needed their captain Heinrich Klaasen to step up and provide a strong finish. Klaasen was looking in good form but his stay came to an end courtesy off a Yorker from Hasan Ali, cleaning up the wicketkeeper-batsman for 15.

Malan continued to accelerate as he brought up his fifty in just 36 balls. Faheem Ashraf ended Linde’s 22-run cameo from 11 balls, as the left-hander chopped the ball to his stumps. Malan was eventually caught by Faheem Ashraf for 55, handing Nawaz his second wicket of the match.

Pakistan pulled things back in the last part of the innings as they conceded only 40 in the last four and restricted them to a score around 200.

The author is a feature writer at The Correspondent. He mainly lives in the shadows as a ghost writer so you may have read his work and not even known it. He can be reached at asadqasim@thecorrespondent.pk

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