Babar Azam starred with a magnificent 122 as Pakistan made light work of a target of 203-5 to thrash South Africa by nine wickets in the third T20I.

Captain Babar and Mohammad Rizwan (73 not out) combined in a remarkable opening stand of 197 off 17.4 overs, making light work of an imposing total posted by the Proteas, similarly thanks to 108 compiled at the top of the order by Janneman Malan and Aiden Markram, who scored 55 and 63 respectively.

Both openers fell to Mohammad Nawaz (2-38) – crucial blows before Babar and Rizwan took centre stage to give Pakistan a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.

Earlier on Wednesday, Babar usurped Virat Kohli at the top of the ODI batting rankings and he celebrated with his maiden ton in the shorted international format.

He reached the landmark off 49 deliveries, with Rizwan playing a relative anchor role, even though his 47-ball knock also progressed at a rapid rate

Babar just failed to see things through, caught behind when trying to ramp a bouncer outside off stump from Lizaad Williams (1-34), but Fakhar Zaman underscored Pakistan's dominance by hitting the next two deliveries for four to seal victory with two overs to spare.

It seemed utterly improbable to imagine South Africa being on the wrong side of such an emphatic result when Malan and Markram got to work.

Markram now has three successive T20I half-centuries, while Malan reached his 50 for the first time in the format.

However, after he spooned Nawaz to short third man with the score 143-3 after 14.1 overs, South Africa struggled to regain momentum, even though brisk knocks from George Linde (22) and Rassie van der Dussen (34 not out) looked to have given them plenty to defend. Babar and Rizwan had other ideas.

Babar brilliance to the fore once more

A century in the first ODI and a 94 in the third helped Babar to overhaul Kohli and he continued to make hay. Over the course of a mesmerising 59-ball stay, he hammered 15 fours and four sixes as he and Rizwan bent the Proteas attack to their will.

No tonic for Hendricks

It was hard going for all of South Africa's bowlers but left-arm seamer Beuran Hendricks will want to forget this one in a hurry. He sent down four overs at the cost of 55, without reward. Hendricks bowled three dot balls and was smoked for as many sixes.

Pakistan's Babar Azam has risen above Virat Kohli to take top spot in the ODI batting rankings.

After a fine showing in the recent series victory over South Africa, Babar replaced his India rival at the summit with 865 points to Kohli's 857.

Babar scored 103 in the opening fixture against the Proteas and closed the three-match showdown with a fine 94, earning the player of the match award.

"This is another milestone in my career, which will now require even more hard work and absolute consistency with the bat in order for me to hold on to the ranking for an extended period of time, like Sir Vivian Richards from January 1984 to October 1988 and Virat Kohli for 1,258 days," said Babar, who is sixth in the Test rankings and third in the T20I format.

"I have also previously topped the T20I rankings, but the ultimate ambition and goal is to lead the Test rankings, which are the real testament and reward to a batsman's calibre, reputation and skills.

"I understand to achieve this objective, I will not only have to perform consistently, but more importantly, against the top sides.

"I am looking forward to this challenge and remain confident I will be able to accomplish this target with the support of my team-mates and coaching staff."

Babar has played 80 ODIs, scoring 3,808 runs at an average of 56.83, a strike rate of 88.7, and with a highest score of 125 not out.

South Africa levelled the four-match Twenty20 series against Pakistan at 1-1 thanks to a convincing six-wicket win at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.

The Proteas - minus their Indian Premier League stars - had slipped to defeat in the opening game on Saturday but recovered impressively from that setback, with a disciplined bowling performance restricting their opponents to 140-9.

Aidan Markram led the reply with 54 from 30 balls and while there was a mid-innings wobble as they slipped to 98-4, the hosts still cruised to their victory target with six overs to spare.

Stand-in captain Heinrich Klaasen finished up unbeaten on 36, while George Linde was 20 not out from just 10 deliveries to complete a fine all-round performance.

Mohammad Rizwan had starred in Pakistan's successful run chase at the weekend, making an unbeaten 74, but fell for a first-ball duck this time.

The recalled Sharjeel Khan – playing his first international game since January 2017 – also departed early for eight, leaving the score at 10-2 in the third over of an innings that simply never gained momentum.

Skipper Babar Azam made 50 at a run-a-ball rate and Mohammad Hafeez contributed 32, the pair adding 58 for the third wicket.

However, three wickets apiece for Linde – who opened the bowling with his left-arm spin - and Lizaad Williams restricted Pakistan's final score. Tabraiz Shamsi also played his part with the ball, recording figures of 1-22 from his four overs.

The two teams meet again in the third T20 at Centurion on Wednesday, with the series concluding at the same venue two days later.


Rare failure for Rizwan

Rizwan had posted scores of 74 not out, 42, 51, 104 not out and 89 in his previous five T20 appearances for Pakistan. However, the impressive run of form came to a rapid halt on Monday.

The wicketkeeper-batsman fell to the first ball of the game, an ambitious attempt to hit Linde over the top only providing catching practice for Markram at mid-off.

Opening case continues

Markram made sure South Africa had no issues with the required rate in reply, hitting seven fours and three sixes in a 30-ball knock.

The opening batsman has hit back-to-back half-centuries in the format now, furthering his case for a spot in the full-strength line-up ahead of the T20 World Cup later in the year.

Mohammad Rizwan was Pakistan's match-winner again as he carried his bat through a record-breaking run chase to beat an undermanned South Africa side by four wickets in the first Twenty20 International.

Opener Rizwan was the leading run scorer with 197 when these teams met for a three-match series in Pakistan earlier this year, and his outstanding 74 not out suggested he will again have a big role to play across four games in South Africa.

It was a much-needed contribution after the Proteas - missing a host of stars, including new captain Temba Bavuma - scored a competitive 188-6 at the Wanderers.

Stand-in skipper Heinrich Klaasen won the toss and elected to bat, and he was stationed at the other end of the wicket as Aiden Markram claimed a first T20I fifty.

Markram swiftly departed for 51, but Klaasen (50) followed him to the half-century mark before Pakistan belatedly slowed their hosts a little.

In reply, neither captain Babar Azam (14), caught by debutant Lizaad Williams, nor Fakhar Zaman (27) could provide Rizwan with a steady partner.

Tabraiz Shamsi (2-29) accounted for both Fakhar and Mohammad Hafeez (13), playing his 100th match in this format, before Beuran Hendricks (3-32) took two wickets in two deliveries, including Haider Ali after 14 off eight.

That pace was surpassed by Faheem Ashraf (30 off 14), though, and a partnership of 48 with Rizwan had Pakistan needing 11 from the final over.

Williams (1-39) was handed the ball and had opportunities either side of the dismissal of Faheem, but dismal fielding throughout fittingly concluded the chase - Pakistan's highest in T20Is - with a delivery to spare courtesy of an overthrow.

Klaasen steps up but fielders fail

Bavuma added to a long list of absentees, but South Africa's performance with the bat offered few excuses and Klaasen, captain for a fourth time, contributed handily.

A target of 189, boosted by the skipper's 50 off 28, should really have been beyond Pakistan, too.

However, Williams - the most prominent of three home debutants - was denied victory in frantic fashion, Faheem dropped before he was bowled and next man in Hasan Ali also escaping prior to the decisive final error.

Pakistan reliant on Rizwan once more

Pakistan named an array of batting talent at the top of the order, with skipper Babar opening and Fakhar given his T20 chance at number three following exceptional ODI form.

But it was Rizwan, Babar's opening partner, who again came to the fore in this format after his team-mates departed.

Rizwan had 81 more runs than any other batsman in the series earlier this year and is set to play a pivotal role again, although he will hope for more help from Babar in particular over the next three matches.

Depleted South Africa will have to do without new captain Temba Bavuma as they look to quickly bounce back from ODI disappointment in a four-match Twenty20 series against Pakistan.

The Proteas went down by 28 runs in a high-scoring decider in the third and final one-dayer on Wednesday, coming up short in their run chase after the tourists had posted 320-7.

Bavuma suffered a strained hamstring while batting and will not be available for the first T20 contest on Saturday, which takes place at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg and will play no part in the series.

Heinrich Klaasen will lead the Proteas in the absence of batsman Bavuma, while the in-form Rassie van der Dussen is undergoing treatment on a quad muscle strain and Dwaine Pretorius misses out with a fractured rib.

Reeza Hendricks is also absent following the recent birth of his first child, with Quinton de Kock, David Miller, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje playing in the Indian Premier League.

Aiden Markram, Andile Phehlukwayo, Daryn Dupavillon and Wiaan Mulder have been retained from the ODI squad.

Pakistan, meanwhile, will be hoping for further white-ball success, having come out on top by a 2-1 scoreline when they hosted their opponents in T20 action earlier this year.

They have added Fakhar Zaman to their squad following his outstanding form in the 50-over fixtures on South African soil.

The opening batsman followed up his 193 in a losing cause in the second game last Sunday with a crucial knock of 103 in the winner-takes-all showdown, with back-to-back centuries moving him up to number 12 in the ICC rankings.

However, Shadab Khan is ruled out due to a fractured toe. The all-rounder will be sidelined for a month, meaning he will also miss the upcoming tour to Zimbabwe. Zahid Mahmood has been named as his replacement for the T20 games on that trip.

 

Opportunity knocks in absence of Proteas stars

South Africa have failed to win their last five series' in the shortest format and you have to go back to the 2019 whitewash of Sri Lanka for their last triumph.

Miller was man of the series in that 3-0 triumph but the dangerous batsman is among the key absentees for the Proteas' next assignment.

With a T20 World Cup to come in India this year, the players who get their opportunity must grasp it and stake a claim for a place in the squad.

Will Fakhar get his chance?

The left-hander's twin hundreds boosted his career average in ODI action to 49.17. However, his T20 record at the highest level is not so hot, as he has averages 22.05 in his previous 40 appearances.

Pakistan are not short of options to bat at the top of the order, either. Captain Babar Azam has tended to open the innings, while Mohammad Rizwan scored a century - just his country's second in the format - when batting there in the home series against South Africa earlier this year.

Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam produced more brilliance to help Pakistan seal a 2-1 ODI series win over South Africa on Wednesday.

Pakistan won the decisive third ODI by 28 runs at Centurion.

They set South Africa a target of 321 after Fakhar (101) followed up his memorable innings of 193 last time out – an ODI record score in a run chase – with another century.

Pakistan captain Babar scored a century at this venue in the first ODI and almost repeated the trick before falling for 94, while Hasan Ali smashed 32 from 11 balls as the tourists scored 320-7.

Janneman Malan (70), Kyle Verreynne (62) and Andile Phehlukwayo (54) ensured South Africa – who were playing without their Indian Premier League contingent – were competitive in their run chase.

But they were ultimately bowled out for 292 in the final over as Pakistan continued a fine ODI streak that has seen them lose only two of their last 12 matches.

It is only the second time in 10 attempts that Pakistan have defeated South Africa in a 50-over series, this win coming after their triumph on the 2013 tour.

The two teams now turn their attention to a four-match T20 series which begins on Saturday.

With an all-new seam attack due to the absence of the likes of IPL duo Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje, South Africa struggled to make an impression with the ball.

Fakhar had nine fours and three sixes as he put on 112 with Imam-ul-Haq (57) and then 94 with Babar to leave the tourists at 206-2 by the time his 104-ball innings came to an end.

He was dismissed by Keshav Maharaj, the pick of the Proteas bowlers with figures of 3-45.

The Pakistan innings had a huge finish when Hasan fired four maximums off the bowling of JJ Smuts (1-67) in the penultimate over.

Babar remained until he fell on the final delivery, caught by Verreynne on the boundary as he sought a six that would have taken him to three figures.

South Africa were left needing 76 from the last seven overs with five wickets in hand.

But their hopes of a successful run chase ended when they lost both Verreynne and Phehlukwayo – who put on 108 for the sixth wicket – in the space of seven balls.

It meant defeat for new captain Temba Bavuma, who has been handed the job through to the 2023 Cricket World Cup, in his first series at the helm.

Fakhar Zaman's stunning 193 proved in vain as South Africa levelled the three-match ODI series against Pakistan with a 17-run victory in Johannesburg on Sunday. 

Babar Azam's century propelled Pakistan to a dramatic three-wicket win in the first match on Friday, but they fell short of winning the series at the Imperial Wanderers Stadium after some significant contributions at the top of the order from the hosts. 

Captain Temba Bavuma was in supreme form, hitting a wonderful 92, while Quinton de Kock (80) and David Miller (50 off 27 balls) helped South Africa to 341. 

Zaman's 155-ball 193 was the highest score in a chase in ODI history, although it was not enough to help his side to an improbable victory. 

Aiden Markram set the tone for South Africa's innings with an impressive 39, ultimately falling to a Faheem Ashraf delivery.

De Kock and Bavuma anchored South Africa, putting up a 114-run partnership for the second wicket, the former bowled by Haris Rauf 20 runs shy of his century. 

Rassie van der Dussen plundered 60 off 37 balls to put the hosts in a strong position, before Bavuma was caught by Azam from Rauf's bowling for 92. 

Miller then gave South Africa's total an even healthier look with a half-century.

Pakistan suffered an early blow in the chase when Imam-ul-Haq was dismissed by Lungi Ngidi in the second over, while Anrich Nortje took three quick wickets. 

The visitors' hopes of an unlikely win looked in tatters, but Zaman gave them hope with a record-breaking innings. 

His spellbinding 193 surpassed Herchelle Gibbs' 175 as the highest individual score at the Imperial Wanderers Stadium, and was the second highest ever in a losing ODI cause.

Zaman fell in the penultimate over when he was run out by Markram after De Kock had cheekily encouraged him to think the ball was going to the other end.

Babar Azam's 13th ODI century propelled Pakistan to a dramatic three-wicket victory over South Africa as Temba Bavuma suffered defeat in his first game as limited-overs captain.

Bavuma, who replaced Quinton de Kock as skipper, could only manage one run with the bat at Centurion, but Rassie van der Dussen's unbeaten 123 helped South Africa to 273-6.

Captain Babar (103) struck 17 fours as he went at almost a run a ball, with Pakistan 186-2 when he departed.

However, they lost five further wickets for just 85 runs from there as South Africa threatened an unlikely turnaround, with some impressive death bowling from Andile Phehlukwayo fraying the nerves.

But Faheem Ashraf got Pakistan over the line off the final ball to give them a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

South Africa were reduced to 55-4 after being put into bat by the tourists, whose early inroads owed to a blitz from Shaheen Shah Afridi (2-61), who removed openers Aiden Markram and De Kock before then catching Bavuma at third man off Mohammad Hasnain.

Van der Dussen's 116-run stand with David Miller (50) gave South Africa's innings momentum, though, with Phehlukwayo sharing a stand of 64 as the Proteas' centurion found crucial support from the lower order.

The impact of that assistance looked to be minimal when Pakistan set about their reply, Babar and opener Imam-ul-Haq (70) combining for 177 to lay the platform.

Mohammad Rizwan and Shadab Khan appeared to have steadied the ship after Anrich Nortje (4-51) accounted for Pakistan's talismen as he ripped through the middle order.

But there was to be great drama in the closing overs. Rizwan holed out to deep midwicket off Phehlukwayo and, when Shadab fell to the same bowler going for the big shot on the first delivery of the final over needing only three off six balls, comeback hopes were very much alive.

Phehlukwayo then produced three successive dot balls but Faheem took advantage of a slower ball and a wide delivery to produce the final three runs as Pakistan survived a nervier conclusion than was necessary.

Temba Bavuma starts life as South Africa's new captain in white-ball cricket with an ODI series against Pakistan on home soil.

Bavuma has been handed the job through to the 2023 Cricket World Cup, replacing Quinton de Kock after the wicketkeeper-batsman had been leading the Proteas in all three formats on a temporary basis.

Twenty20 cricket may well be of greater importance for international teams right now in terms of planning - there is a World Cup in the shortest format to come later this year on Indian soil, plus another in Australia in 2022 - but the new reign begins with three 50-over fixtures.

Centurion hosts two of the one-dayers, including Friday's opener, with a fixture at the Wanderers in Johannesburg sandwiched in between.

South Africa lost in both the Test and T20 formats on their tour to Pakistan earlier this year, albeit they had an inexperienced squad on duty for the latter. Heinrich Klaasen was placed in charge as many of his compatriots departed to prepare to face Australia at home, only for those games to be cancelled.

The unexpected gap in the schedule has allowed South Africa to make changes with a focus on the long-term future – Dean Elgar is now the Test skipper – and there are some fresh faces in the one-day squad, with all-rounder Wihan Lubbe and fast bowler Lizaad Williams selected.

Aiden Markram and Wiaan Mulder have been recalled, while those players who will be involved in this year's Indian Premier League will be released early from international duty. With so many departing, opportunities will come for some of the less experienced individuals in the squad.

Pakistan sit just behind their hosts in sixth place in the International Cricket Council's team rankings, but go into the series having lost just one of their last nine ODI games, the solitary defeat coming in a Super Over against Zimbabwe in November 2020.

However, South Africa have won eight of their last 10 outings at Supersport Park - venue for the first and third games - and have a 4-2 record there when Pakistan are the visitors.

Both nations will be eager to pick up points in the World Cup Super League, particularly the Proteas as they prepare for ODI duty for the first time in over a year.

The uncapped Saud Shakeel was initially named in Pakistan's squad but has been ruled out with a leg injury, though fellow rookie Danish Aziz is expected to get a chance in the middle order after impressing in domestic action.


Bavuma takes centre stage

Bavuma will be the 16th captain for South Africa in one-day cricket; he has scored 335 runs and averages 55.8 in the format. However, this will be his first ODI appearance against Pakistan and, with players such as De Kock, David Miller, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje among those bound for the IPL soon, the new skipper will hope to lead from the front.

Babar Lord's it over Proteas

Pakistan captain Babar Azam averages 65.7 in ODI action since the start of 2019, boasting a strike rate of 93.8 while scoring four centuries during that period. The right-handed batsman made 69 as his side won when the nations met during the 2019 Cricket World Cup at Lord's. However, neither made it beyond the round-robin stage of that tournament.

Key series facts

- South Africa and Pakistan have alternated between victory and loss in their last four ODI matches against each other; the last time they met was during the 2019 World Cup, when the Proteas lost by 49 runs.  

- South Africa have won their last three ODI matches (all against Australia); the last time the Proteas won more consecutive matches in the format was between January and March 2019 (six matches).

- Pakistan have a catch success rate of 72 per cent in ODIs since the start of 2019, the lowest share of any Test-playing nation in that time; they have dropped 40 of the 144 chances presented to them.

- South Africa have lost only one of the nine men's multi-game bilateral ODI series played against Pakistan (W8). However, the solitary defeat was at home when Pakistan toured in 2013.

- Fakhar Zaman (currently 47 innings) needs 40 to reach 2,000 runs in ODIs (1,960 runs); if he gets there in this game, he will be the third fastest to reach the milestone for Pakistan (Zaheer Abbas and Babar Azam).

Mohammad Nawaz and debutant Zahid Mahmood starred as Pakistan held their nerve to a seal a 2-1 Twenty20 series win over South Africa despite the best efforts of David Miller and Tabraiz Shamsi.

The Proteas were rocking at 65-7 and thinking of the plane home, with the brilliant Zahid taking 3-40 and Nawaz 2-13 to leave the tourists in a spin in Lahore.

All-rounder Miller made it a contest by clubbing an electric 85 off just 45 deliveries to steer South Africa to 164-8.

Shamsi's outstanding 4-25 made things even more interesting but ultimately the poor showing from the top order told as Pakistan secured a four-wicket win with eight balls to spare.

South Africa started poorly as Mohammad Nawaz's ripper clipped off Reeza Hendrick's (2) thigh and from his next over more early turn saw JJ Smuts (1) sky one that Babar Azam pouched running back from the ring.

Pite van Biljon (16) struck Hasan Ali for three consecutive fours in the sixth over before trying for one too many and seeing the spinner find a huge gap.

Zahid then came to the fore, Heinrich Klaasen (0) top-edging to short fine leg and Janneman Malan trapped lbw, while Andile Phehlukwayo (0) survived a leg before appeal in the same over.

Phehlukwayo fell to Usman Qadir in the next over and Zahid had a third when Dwaine Pretorius (9) - star of the second T20 - had his middle stump torn up.

It was Miller time from there, though, as South Africa's dangerman single-handedly made it a contest - slapping seven sixes and five fours in a sensational knock.

Miller cleared the ropes a couple of times off Zahid in the 13th over, before unloading for four sixes from the final set off Faheem Ashraf to give Pakistan a genuine chase.

Pakistan were looking pretty serene with a 51-run opening stand between Mohammad Rizwan (42) and Haider Ali (15) but Shamsi's turner left the latter's technique exposed and the same man had the former trapped plumb lbw.

Things became even more tense with Shamsi accounting for Hussain Talat (5) and Asif Ali (7), with Babar's industrious 44 coming to an end between those dismissals.

Faheem fell for 10 as Pakistan's legs wobbled but Nawaz (18) and Hasan (20) steered the hosts over the line, the latter clubbing a six over midwicket to seal the series in style.

Dwaine Pretorius starred with bowling figures of 5-17 as South Africa cruised to a six-wicket win over Pakistan to level their T20I series at 1-1. 

The Proteas fell three runs short in the first match on Thursday but comfortably chased down a smaller target of 145 this time around. 

David Miller (25 not out) and stand-in captain Heinrich Klaasen (17no) ensured South Africa reached their total with 22 balls to spare on Saturday. 

That came after Reeza Hendricks and Pite van Biljon both scored 42 to set the platform. 

Pretorius had earlier wreaked havoc as Pakistan struggled to 144-7 despite an innings of 51 from in-form opener Mohammad Rizwan, who scored a century in the opening meeting. 

The series will be decided in Sunday's third and final game, which will also take place in Lahore.

South Africa won the toss and opted to bowl, a decision which led to an ideal start when Pakistan captain Babar Azam (5) was trapped lbw by Pretorius from the eighth delivery of the innings. 

Babar reviewed the decision but the ball was crashing into middle and leg. 

After Haider Ali (10) and Hussain Talat (3) fell cheaply, Rizwan – who hit six fours and one six – built a partnership of 45 with Iftikhar Ahmed (20). 

However, those runs came at slower than a run per ball, with Pretorius, Tabraiz Shamsi (1-16) and JJ Smuts (0-20) all producing economical four-over spells. 

Even a quickfire 30 in just 12 balls from Faheem Ashraf could not get the hosts above 150. 

It looked like the sub-par total might be enough when Shaheen Afridi (2-18) removed Janneman Malan (4) and Smuts (7) inside 14 deliveries of South Africa’s reply. 

But Hendricks and Van Biljon combined for five maximums in a decisive partnership worth 77. 

Neither of them could see the innings through to its conclusion, but the outcome was no longer in doubt and Miller finished it off with a huge six and then a single off Iftikhar.

Mohammad Rizwan struck a brilliant century before Pakistan held their nerve with the ball to win the Twenty20 series opener against South Africa by three runs.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Rizwan had registered his maiden Test ton against the same opposition last week, with his knock of 115 not out helping the hosts seal a 2-0 sweep in Rawalpindi. 

Promoted up the order to open in the T20 side in Lahore, the right-hander hit six fours and seven of his team's 11 sixes as he finished up unbeaten on 104 out of a total of 169-6.

His 64-ball knock helped Pakistan recover from the early setback of losing Babar Azam to the second ball of their innings, the captain run out without scoring thanks to a stunning direct hit by bowler Bjorn Fortuin at the non-striker's end. 

Yet South Africa's fielding did not live up to the same standards for the remainder of the innings; they dropped Rizwan twice, allowing the him to record only Pakistan's second century in the shortest format. 

Tabraiz Shamsi – who did not feature in the recent Test series due to a back injury – was the pick of the attack with 1-20 for an understrength South Africa, who started promisingly in reply thanks to 44 from Janneman Malan.

Usman Qadir dismissed both Malan and debutant Jacques Snyman as he claimed 2-21, though the visitors were still in with a chance when requiring 48 from the final four overs with six wickets in hand.

Hendricks (54) had overcome a quiet start to reach a valiant half-century, but Rizwan put an end to his innings with a sharp piece of fielding, picking up the ball and then diving into the stumps.

Left needing six from the final delivery, Fortuin was only able to squeeze a full ball from Faheem Ashraf out to deep square leg, meaning the Proteas – led by stand-in captain Heinrich Klaasen – came up just short.

The teams will conclude the three-match series with a double-header this weekend at the same venue.

South Africa will be hoping some fresh faces can lead to a change in fortunes in Pakistan as the two nations switch focus to the Twenty20 format. 

Lahore will stage all three matches in the series, which comes after Pakistan recorded a 2-0 sweep over the same opponents in Test action. 

However, many of the Proteas who featured in that series are not involved in the T20 fixtures, including captain Quinton de Kock. 

Heinrich Klaasen is instead in charge for the tourists, while Dwaine Pretorius, Lutho Sipamla, Tabraiz Shamsi and George Linde are the only members of the squad who have stayed on after Test duty. 

The stand-in skipper insists that while South Africa may be lacking in experience, those on duty are determined to seize the opportunities that come their way during the trip. 

"South Africa has got loads of talent, which people sometimes don't see because we only have six franchises," Klaasen said. "We are by no means a second-string T20 squad, and we are looking to win." 

Klaasen revealed he is now "fit and safe" after overcoming COVID-19, though it took a heavy toll on him physically. He put up an Instagram post during his recovery to make clear the effects of the virus, in which he wrote: "Covid is real and didn't think it would be this hard to come back". 

As for Pakistan, they have named a 20-man squad that includes four uncapped players but is missing Mohammad Hafeez, who failed to come to an agreement over the date he was to enter the group's bio-secure bubble. 

Fakhar Zaman and Wahab Riaz are also notable absentees having been dropped, while Shadab Khan is ruled out through injury. 

Zafar Gohar, Danish Aziz, Zahid Mehmood and Amad Butt are the quartet of new faces, while Hasan Ali – the hero for the hosts in the second Test with 10 wickets in the match – is back involved again in the shortest format.

Pakistan go into the opening game on Thursday having won 14 of their previous 18 T20 matches on home soil (L4), including the last five in a row.


Babar right up there with the best

No matter what the format, Babar Azam is crucial to Pakistan. The right-handed batsman has scored the most amount of runs in T20 cricket at international level since the start of 2018, managing 1,213 across his 28 innings at an average of 52.7.

After a relatively quiet Test series in terms of his individual output, Babar will be eager to capitalise on a new-look South African attack that is without the services of pace trio Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi.

Positive spin to help Proteas

Shamsi is one of the few who has remained for the T20 series; the left-arm wrist spinner was ruled out of the first Test with a back injury and then did not feature in the second match.

The 30-year-old has played in 25 T20 games for South Africa, taking 21 wickets at 33.33 with an economy rate of 7.69 runs per over, and has the chance to become a pivotal member of the XI, particularly with a World Cup in the format to come in India later this year.

Key series facts

- South Africa have never lost a multi-game bilateral T20 series in Asia, winning five times out of a possible six in the continent (D1).
- Since the start of 2018, Pakistan wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed (18 catches and five stumpings) has been directly involved in the joint-most T20 dismissals among those featuring for a Test-playing nation (23 – level with Alex Carey and Tim Seifert).
- Since the start of 2018, Babar Azam has scored the most runs in the T20 format, managing 1,213 runs across his 28 innings at an average of 52.7.
- Only David Miller from the current Proteas squad has played a T20 international game in Pakistan, having represented the World XI in 2017. He has logged 20 catches in the format since the start of 2018, the third-most of those to feature for a Test-playing nation.
- Faheem Ashraf recorded more dot balls than any other player during the T20 series against New Zealand in December 2020). He has only been able to claim four wickets at an average of 41.3 in Pakistan, however.

Hasan Ali claimed his maiden 10-wicket Test match haul as Pakistan completed a 2-0 series whitewash of South Africa despite a century from Aiden Markram.

Seamer Hasan took 5-60 as the Proteas collapsed to 274 all out Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on Monday, losing by 95 runs after looking poised to level the series.

Hasan finished with magnificent match figures of 10-114, inspiring Pakistan to a first series triumph over South Africa since 2003.

South Africa had been going along nicely on 241-3 chasing 370 to win, but the tourists fell apart after Markram was dismissed for a superb 108.

Markram's fifth Test hundred – and his first since March 2018 – proved to be in vain as Hasan was once again the star of the show on the final day.

Temba Bavuma made 61 and Rassie van der Dussen 48, but South Africa lost seven wickets for only 33 runs, Shaheen Shah Afridi also doing damage, taking 4-51.

Quinton de Kock fell for a golden duck, while Keshav Maharaj and Kagiso Rabada also failed to trouble the scorers.

Victory for Pakistan moved them up to fifth in the Test rankings and was their first series win since beating Bangladesh 12 months ago, bringing the Proteas back down to earth after their 2-0 defeat of Sri Lanka.

South Africa have now lost four of their past five series and are unable to respond with a victory over Australia on home soil after the series was postponed.

Hasan's Test-best stuns Proteas

South Africa could not contend with Hasan in the first innings and it was the same story on the final day of the series.

He saw the back of Van der Dussen and Faf du Plessis (five) in the morning session, then came to the party again with the second new ball

Hasan claimed the big wicket of Markram, who was caught by Imran Butt, then dismissed captain De Kock first ball before sending George Linde packing. Afridi also delivered for Pakistan, with Yasir Shah sealing victory by bowling Wiaan Mulder when he charged down the track.

Markam stakes captaincy claim

It proved to be a day to forget for the tourists, but Markram's knock was a major positive.

The opener showed his class, batting for over five and a half hours – hitting three sixes and finding the rope 13 times – as he staked his claim for the captaincy.

South Africa still need 243 runs but have nine wickets in hand as they look to complete the highest chase by a visiting team in Pakistan after Mohammad Rizwan's unbeaten century set them a mammoth target. 

Pakistan had begun day four of the second Test in Rawalpindi on 129-6 in their second innings, meaning a lead of 200. 

However, Rizwan's 115 not out helped them build that to 369, leaving the Proteas with an arduous task that Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen attacked impressively in the final session.

Markram and Van der Dussen reached stumps unbeaten on 59 and 48 respectively as South Africa moved to 127-1 in reply by the close, their efforts keeping an excellent Test in the balance and keeping the tourists' hopes of squaring the two-match series at 1-1 intact. 

Rizwan had resumed on 28 and ensured South Africa would not succeed in keeping the lead under 300, his maiden Test century potentially a match-winning one. 

His fluent innings comprised of 15 fours and continued a theme of the series as Pakistan's tail provided stubborn resistance once again.

The wicketkeeper-batsman put on a stand of 53 with Yasir Shah (23) and then a ninth-wicket partnership of 97 with Nauman Ali, who made 45, before George Linde - bowling with strapping on a lacerated finger - claimed a five-for by dismissing Shaheen Shah Afridi, Pakistan all out for 298. 

South Africa lost opener Dean Elgar for 17 at the hands of Shaheen in the ninth over of their response but, with the surface holding up well, Markram and Van der Dussen provided hope with an unbeaten stand of 94, the former hitting nine fours and a pair of sixes. 

Yet with the highest chase in Rawalpindi coming in 2000 when Sri Lanka prevailed by reaching 220-8, history is against South Africa getting this especially difficult job done.

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