Mohammad Rizwan breaks Proteas' hearts again in Pakistan's record T20 chase

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Pakistan's Hasan Ali and Mohammad Rizwan (AFP)
Pakistan's Hasan Ali and Mohammad Rizwan (AFP)
Christiaan Kotze / AFP

Mohammad Rizwan's role as the Proteas' T20 nemesis when they play Pakistan knows no end as the feisty wicket-keeper guided his team's successful record chase against South Africa in the first T20 at the Wanderers.

SCORECARD | Proteas v Pakistan, 1st T20

Rizwan, whose most recent T20 scores against South Africa are 104*, 51 and 42, caressed a fourth T20 half-century that he turned into an unbeaten 74, which helped Pakistan reel in South Africa's 188/6 with a four-wicket win on Saturday.

The win was Pakistan's highest ever successful chase in T20I cricket.

It seemed a bit too easy at times, then got unnecessarily tense, especially with South Africa fielding three debutants in Wihan Lubbe, Sisanda Magala and Lizaad Williams, but Rizwan's one of the classier and smarter T20 batsmen going around.

He took charge of the 41-run opening partnership with Babar Azam (14) and anchored the second (45) and third wicket (24) stands with Fakhar Zaman (27) and Mohammad Hafeez (13), respectively.

The 48-run standoff 24 balls with Faheem Ashraf (30) brought Pakistan close to the finishing line that they eventually crossed.

Azam and Zaman were caught at deep point and deep midwicket by Willams and Janneman Malan respectively of Beuran Hendricks (3/39) and Tabraiz Shamsi (2/29), respectively.

Hafeez, playing in his 100th T20, was stumped by stand-in captain Heinrich Klaasen off Shamsi.

Rizwan also had to watch Hendricks' 16th over double strike where he removed Haider Ali (14) and Mohammad Nawaz (nought) in consecutive balls.

He remained calm though and took charge of the chase in the 18th over when he clouted Hendricks for 14 runs in the first three balls to reduce the equation to 24 off 15 balls.

With the effervescent Ashraf taking eight runs off Magala's 19th over, 22 off 12 became 14 off 10, but Magala found his lengths to give Williams (1/39) 11 runs to defend off the last over.

Williams then got rid of Ashraf with the second ball, but Hasan Ali (nine not out), another thorn in SA's flesh, hit his first ball for four and scampered the necessary singles that gifted Pakistan the win.

South Africa's 188/6 could have and should have been much better. They had a fitful start being 37/2 in the first five overs and scored 37 runs in the last five overs for the loss of three wickets.

Sandwiched between that was an excellent batting display led by the under-fire duo of Aiden Markram (51) and Klaasen (50).

Janneman Malan (24) was full of life early and took a liking to Shaheen Shah Afridi's offerings but was snared by spin when Nawaz (2/21) trapped him in front.

Wihan Lubbe (four) had a fast start to his international career when he hit his first ball for four, but trudged off two balls later when he scooped Hasan Ali (2/28) to Afridi at cover.

That set the stage for an enterprising and energetic partnership of 62 of 33 balls between Markram and Klaasen.

The Titans duo have been under pressure for run-scoring reasons in white ball cricket. Markram has felt the heat for his inability to convert starts while Klaasen hasn't found his touch.

Initially fidgety at the crease, Markram found his range and raised his 50 off 30 balls with eight fours and one six.

The partnership ensured South Africa were 98/2 after 10 overs, but Markram then feathered a Nawaz delivery that was well caught by Rizwan.

Pite van Biljon (34), who played the shot of the day when he got on one knee and delightfully flicked Faheem Ashraf over square-leg for six, continued the boisterous run-making with 39-ball, 61-run stand with his captain.

The partnership gave South Africa an excellent back-end platform, even though Klaasen became Ali's second victim when he picked out Zaman at short fine leg in the 17th over.

Pakistan's adherence to block-hole bowling ensured SA wouldn't get past 190, with Van Biljon and George Linde (six) falling to Afridi (1/45) and Haris Rauf (1/37), respectively.

Magala hit the last ball of the innings for six, but it was never going to be adequate while Rizwan was there. 

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