Proteas on the back foot as they lose T20 opener against Pakistan
SA’s struggles on the subcontinent continued unabated on Thursday as they lost the first of three T20 internationals to Pakistan by three runs at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
Proteas captain Heinrich Klaasen won the toss and chose to field and Pakistan scored 169/6 in their 20 overs with Mohammad Rizwan dazzling with his first T20 century to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
Rizwan was the main contributor to Pakistan’s above-average score and he was supported by Haider Ali and Hussain Talat who returned with respective scores of 21 and 15.
The Proteas started with promise when Bjorn Fortuin ran out the dangerous Babar Azam without scoring after two balls but Pakistan’s top order recovered to make up for the early loss of their inspirational captain.
The next Pakistan wickets to fall were those of Haider Ali and Hussain Talat inside 10 overs as they became victims of Andile Phehlukwayo and Tabraiz Shamsi respectively.
Fortuin returned in the 13th over to claim the scalp of Iftikhar Ahmed (4) and the last two wickets were taken by Lutho Sipamla and Phehlukwayo when they removed Khushdil Shah (12) and Faheem Ashraf (4).
In their chase, SA started with genuine promise with openers Reeza Hendricks and Janneman Malan sharing 53 off 42 balls but things fell apart as soon as their partnership was broken.
The Proteas' good start was further illustrated by the fact that they ended the first power play on 51/0 — which was better than Pakistan who ended their first six overs on 45/2 — but they collapsed to be bowled out for 166/6.
Malan and Hendricks were Proteas’ best batters with scores of 44 and 54 but the rest of the batting line-up failed dismally with no-one managing to go past 20.
With the ball, Usman Qadir and Haris Rauf were the destroyers in chief for Pakistan as they ended with two wickets each while Faheem Ashraf took the other wicket and Rizwan ran out Hendricks.
SA will be looking to bounce back during the remaining two back-to-back matches on Saturday and Sunday at the same venue in their mission to win this series.