Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
South Africa crushed Pakistan to take a 1-0 lead in the series
Fresh off their 4-1 win in the ODI series, South Africa kept their scintillating run of form alive as they cruised past a lacklustre Pakistan side by nine wickets in the first Twenty2o International in Dubai.
South Africa eased to victory behind Dale Steyn’s three-wicket haul and wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock’s outstanding knock of 48 not out.
Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez won the toss and chose to bat first.
But, that decision backfired immediately as opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad edged the fifth delivery of the match straight to Hashim Amla in the slips to give South Africa an early breakthrough.
Steyn struck in the very next over as Shoaib Maqsood dabbled at a ball that was moving away and ended up nicking it right to de Kock behind the stumps.
Steyn had his second wicket just two balls later as Hafeez got a thick edge when attempting a powerful cut shot, which was gobbled up by de Kock.
With Pakistan struggling at 4/3, veteran all-rounder Shahid Afridi only made things worse as amassed 10 runs before pulling a bouncer straight to Ryan McLaren at the deep backward square leg boundary.
Shoaib Malik failed to make the most of his Twenty20 recall as he was stumped by de Kock off a delivery from Imran Tahir that was called a wide.
Abdul Razzaq could only put together 10 runs before being caught out at the wide long on boundary by David Millier off the bowling of McLaren.
With the tail now exposed, wicketkeeper Umar Akmal launched a one-man offensive against the South Africa bowling attack and succeeded for some time.
However, he was run out by de Kock on 49 off 41 balls, which included four boundaries and a six.
Thanks to Akmal’s lone heroics, Pakistan clawed their way to 98/9 off their 20 overs.
Steyn was the pick of the South African bowlers with three wickets, while Tsotsobe and Tahir snapped up two wickets apiece and McLaren chipped in with one wicket as well.
Chasing a simple target of 99, South Africa were dealt an early blow when Amla walked too far across his stumps and missed the flick shot, which resulted in his leg-stump being pegged back by Sohail Tanvir.
From then on, it was all South Africa as de Kock and skipper Faf du Plessis went on a rampage.
The pair registered an unbeaten 83-run partnership, in which they kept the scoreboard ticking by continuously looking for singles and twos off the good deliveries, while dispatching the short-pitched and fuller balls right to the boundary or over the ropes.
South Africa comfortably reached their target with more than five overs to spare.
De Kock finished on 48 off 38 balls, which included three boundaries and two sixes, while du Plessis remained undefeated on 37 off 40 deliveries, which included four boundaries and a six.
Tanvir was the only Pakistani bowler to take a wicket.
Hafeez was disgusted with his team’s embarrassing performance and blamed the batsmen for the loss.
“I personally feel that we couldn’t setup the total we wanted to, the early wickets did the damage and the South Africa bowlers really bowled to their plans,” he said. ” Our batsmen are not taking the responsibility which individuals have to in a team. We have the talent but we need to work harder for the team. One person can’t do this, it’s not magic and as a batsman you have to look for runs and partnerships. We have the talent, it just needs application.”
Du Plessis couldn’t have asked for a better result, saying “that’s how you want to start the series”.
“It was a pretty good game and that’s how you want to start the series by breaking their back initially,” he added. “The wicket was quite dry and our bowlers have been putting their batsmen under pressure. I wasn’t too surprised by their selection but seeing Afridi at No. 3 was a surprise against the new ball.
“De Kock is playing beautifully, it’s a nice purple patch for him and hopefully he’ll keep going for us. We’re looking forward to the World Cup and try and get to the number 1 or 2 spot till then. We want to beat Pakistan here and then back in SA.”
Steyn edged out de Kock for the Man of the Match award, and said: “I’m enjoying bowling in general and the shorter formats are a lot of fun. I try and land the ball in one area and pretend it’s going somewhere else, it’s a lot of fun. I’m landing the ball in the right area. Lopsy got a couple of wickets. I didn’t know what to count on any more for dismissing Hafeez, it’s a nice challenge against him and I’m fortunate to have the better of him.”