Red-hot Rizwan reacts after leading Pakistan to victory in first T20I

Wicketkeeper-batsman scored 74 from 50 balls

Red-hot Rizwan reacts after leading Pakistan to victory in first T20I PHOTO: AFP

Opener Mohammad Rizwan smashed an unbeaten half-century to lead Pakistan to a nail-biting four-wicket victory over inexperienced South Africa in the first Twenty20 International at The Wanderers on Saturday.

South Africa, who were without seven of their leading players, either injured or released to compete in the Indian Premier League, won the toss and elected to bat, posting 188 for six in their 20 overs on an excellent wicket.

“The taste of success is something totally different but the first win of the series is always very important,” said Rizwan after the match. “I had a simple goal which was to take the game to the end and I had Fakhar Zaman’s innings in the second ODI in my mind. It was a little tricky but that is the objective I had in my mind because I knew that we had power-hitters towards the end of the line-up. So, I had plan to take singles and hit boundaries to keep the required run rate in check.”

Rizwan scored 74 from 50 balls in Pakistan’s reply as the visitors profited from the depleted home bowling attack and reached their target with one ball remaining.

It is their highest successful run chase in T20 cricket, beating the 187 they managed in a win over Australia in 2018.

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The industrious Rizwan was helped over the line by Faheem Ashraf (30 from 14 balls) as the pair added 48 in 24 balls for the sixth wicket, turning the match firmly in the visitors’ favour.

“When we lost wickets of Mohammad Hafeez and Haider Ali, then some pressure got built up but then Faheem Ashraf came in and did some power-hitting and supported us and helped me relax a bit,” he said.

South Africa’s total was boosted by half-centuries for opener Aiden Markram (51 from 32 balls) and stand-in captain Heinrich Klaasen (50 from 28 balls), but at one stage they looked as though they would cruise past 200.

Left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz (2-21) and seamer Hasan Ali (2-28) ensured they did not with eight excellent overs between them.

“The way our bowlers bowled in the end, which helped us restrict the score and then the way we batted makes me feel confident that we will win the next game as well,” he said.

The home side handed debuts to batsman Wihan Lubbe, all-rounder Sisanda Magala and seamer Lizaad Williams.

The second match in the four-game series will be played at the same venue on Monday.