- Proteas stand-in captain Heinrich Klaasen said they had no answer to Babar Azam's classy and calculated aggression in the third T20 at SuperSport Park.
- Azam scored a maiden T20 ton (122) that underpinned his team's massive nine-wicket win against South Africa.
- Azam shared a 197-run opening stand with Mohammad Rizwan as Pakistan took an unassailable 2-1 lead ahead of Friday's final T20.
Proteas stand-in captain Heinrich Klaasen said they simply had no response to Babar Azam’s batting brilliance in the third T20 at SuperSport Park on Wednesday.
Azam, Pakistan’s fluent captain, stroked an enchanting 122 off 59 balls as Pakistan coasted to a nine-wicket win with 12 balls to spare.
The win gave them an unassailable 2-1 lead in the four-match T20 series that ends on Friday at the same ground.
Azam, who scored a 104-ball 103 and an 82-ball 94 in the first and the third ODIs that took place at SuperSport Park, showed his class.
Having scored a run-a-ball 50 in the second T20 at Wanderers on an admittedly difficult surface, he took one ball less to make his maiden T20 100 with 11 fours and four sixes.
Klaasen said they were helpless in the face of a classy assault from the world’s best ODI batsman.
“We were about 10 runs short, but they batted brilliantly. We didn’t have enough answers for the way they batted. Babar is a special batter. When a guy like him comes off, it’s very difficult to defend on this ground,” Klaasen said.
“It was something to view from behind the stumps. We tried everything. They made a lot of good balls look bad with good execution, excellent placement and brilliant stroke play."
Klaasen also pointed to the flat nature of the wicket, saying that it gave his bowlers little to work with.
Two excellent 50s from Janneman Malan and Aiden Markram gave South Africa hope, but a national T20 record opening stand of 197 between Azam and perennial nemesis Mohammad Rizwan (73*) turned what should have been a tall chase into a cakewalk.
“How does one take wickets on this type of surface where there was no turn, and the wicket was skidding down the slope? The ball was gripping and the ball travels on the highveld. I reckon the way to get wickets here is to be defensive and make sure a team doesn’t bat easily at 10 an over,” Klaasen said.
“Two nights ago, the guys struck early, but it was different in this game. It was a better surface to bat on and the bowlers need to work harder. It’s a tough place to bowl here.”
Klaasen though admitted they had a more than defendable score and they’ll have to come up with better plans to stem Pakistan in the fourth T20 on Friday.
While Pakistan have bossed all the SuperSport Park games, Klaasen said they really want to draw the series.
“We had a good score and we failed to defend it. We’ll have to do a lot of homework and we have to make some new plans,” Klaasen said.
“We’ll have to look at things very quickly because we don’t have much time. If there’s one thing, the guys are up for it and we really want to make sure we draw the series.”