A brilliant Century by Babar Azam powered Pakistan to a last-ball win in the first ODI against South Africa at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Friday.
Babar Azam scored 103 runs off 104 balls. Babar also stitched a spectacular partnership of 177 runs with Imam-ul-Haq who scored 70 runs. But after Babar’s dismissal, Pakistan’s batting order collapsed as the fast bowler Anrich Nortje scalped four wickets in four overs.
From a total of 186 for one with more than 18 overs in hand to reach 274 runs, Pakistan got reduced to 203 runs for five. However, Mohammad Rizwan and Shadab Khan steadied Pakistan’s innings in a sixth-wicket stand of 53 runs. But both the batsmen were dismissed before Fahim Ashraf hit the winning run off Andile Phehlukwayo off the last ball.
“Pressure was there but we learn from that”, Babar said at the post-match presentation. Babar also praised Pak bowlers who restricted South Africa to a total of 270. Earlier Pakistan won the toss & sent South Africa to bat first.
“I told them to bowl hard lengths there was some swing as well,” he said. “They took wickets in the power play and that helped us”, Babar added.
For South Africa, Rassie Van der Dussen had to steady South Africa’s innings after they were reduced to 55 runs for four wickets down inside 15 overs. He scored unbeaten 123 runs, his maiden International century to guide South Africa towards a decent total of 273 runs for six wickets down. South Africa’s Captain Temba Bavuma admitted that the loss of early wickets destroyed South Africa’s aggressive batting intent.
“We didn’t help ourselves with our batting effort in the first ten overs,” he said.
For the hosts, Nortje was the pick of the bowlers who finished the match with 4/51. Anrich Nortje conceded 31 runs in his first spell of five overs. He made a strong comeback by removing Babar Azam & Imam-Ul-Haq in successive overs.
The solid victory gave visitors an important lead in the three-match ODI series against South Africa. South Africa will play without their five key players after the second ODI match as these five players will head to India to play in the IPL 2021.