Sensational Azam makes light work of South Africa
Babar Azam’s 49-ball century has helped Pakistan make light work of the hosts South Africa in the third T20I and take an unassailable 2-1 lead in the four-match series.
Chasing a 204-run target set by South Africa, Pakistan cruised to victory with 9 wickets and two overs to spare.
Azam put on an unbelievable batting display in Centurion, as he not only scored his maiden T20I hundred, but also did so as the fastest ever Pakistani batsman, and went on to play the highest ever T20I innings from his country. His previous best was 97 not-out against West Indies in Karachi back in 2018. He is the third Pakistani batsman to reach the T20I three digits.
Before getting out in the 18th over of the match with his team just 7 runs away from victory, Azam scored 122 off 59 balls, hitting 15 fours and 4 sixes. It was also the joint second highest score by a batsman in run chase. Together with wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan, Azam made the job of batting ridiculously easy, stitching a mammoth 197-run first-wicket stand, which was the fourth-highest T20I partnership overall, and the highest ever in a chase.
In the end, Rizwan remained not out on 73 off 47 balls, with 5 fours and a couple of sixes. The winning runs, however, came off the bat of Fakhar Zaman, who scored 8 off 2 balls, sending the ball to the rope on both occasions.
For the Proteas, Lizaad was the only bowler with some success, as the prized wicket of Azam meant he finished with one for 34 from his quota of 4 overs. Beuran Hendricks had the worst figures, conceding 55 runs at an economy of 13.80.
Earlier in the day after coming to bat first, Janneman Malan and Aiden Markram took the home side off to a great start, sharing 108-run for the first wicket. While Markram made 63 off 31 balls with 6 fours and 4 sixes, Malan scored 55 off 40 balls with 5 fours and 2 sixes.
Rassie van der Dussen remained not out on 34 off 20 balls, while George Linde scored 22 and Heinrich Klaasen a quickfire 15, as South Africa posted a healthy 203 for five in their stipulated 20 overs.
Mohammad Nawaz returned figures of two for 38, getting the wickets of both Markram and Malan. Shaheen Afridi, Hasan Ali and Faheem Ashraf shared the other three wickets between them.
Brief scores: South Africa 203 for five in 20 overs (Markram 63, Malan 55; Nawaz 2/38) lost to Pakistan 205 for one in 18 overs (Azam 122, Rizwan 73*; Lizaad 1/34) by 9 wickets.