JOHANNESBURG: South Africa opener Aiden Markram struck a brisk half-century while George Linde excelled with a solid all-round display as the hosts levelled the four-game Twenty20 International series against Pakistan with a comprehensive six-wicket win in the second match at the Wanderers on Monday.
Pakistan elected to bat, but some poor stroke-play saw them restricted to 140 for nine in their 20 overs, well below par on one of the best batting pitches in world cricket.
South Africa never looked troubled in their reply as they reached their target with 36 balls left in a clinical triumph for a side missing seven leading players who are either injured or have been released to play in the Indian Premier League.
Markram led the reply as he blasted 54 from 30 balls, with 46 of his runs in boundaries as he smashed seven fours and three sixes in an aggressive showing.
Leg-spinner Usman Qadir gave South Africa a brief scare with the wickets of Markram and Pite van Biljon (2) in the space of two overs.
But stand-in skipper Heinrich Klaasen (36 from 21 balls) saw his side to the win as he added 49 in 3.4 overs in a fifth wicket partnership with man-of-the-match Linde (20 from 10).
Pakistan’s innings got off to a somewhat bizarre start when in-form opener Mohammad Rizwan — man-of-the-match in Pakistan’s four-wicket win in the first match — danced down the wicket to left-arm spinner Linde (3-23) off the very first ball and was easily caught at mid-off by Markram.
Linde dismissed also Sharjeel Khan — the Pakistan opener playing his first international after more than four years — in his second over.
He finished with three for 23 off his four overs. Linde then held three catches in the deep to assist in the next three wickets.
Captain Babar Azam (50 from 50 balls) and Mohammad Hafeez (32 from 23) were the only batsmen to manage a score above 12 as seamer Lizaad Williams (3-35) and spinner Tabraiz Shamsi bowled excellent spells for the home side.
Babar and Hafeez put on 58 off 49 balls for the third wicket but only two other batsmen reached double figures against a much-improved bowling performance by the inexperienced South African team.
There was a glimmer of hope for Pakistan in the 12th over when Sisanda Magala conceded 18 runs in an over which included three no-balls and three wides.
But Magala found his rhythm and conceded only 14 runs in his next three overs and bowled Babar to claim his first international wicket in his second match.
Left-arm wrist spinner Shamsi — the top-ranked bowler in T20 Internationals — took one for 22 in another accurate performance but did not indulge in his ‘telephone’ celebration after dismissing Haider Ali.
Shamsi, who took off a boot and held it to his ear as though making a phone call after both his wickets in the first match, said afterwards: “It’s just about having fun on the field. There is absolutely no disrespect meant towards the opposition or the batsman.”
The third match of the series will be played at the SuperSport Park in Centurion on Wednesday.
PAKISTAN: Mohammad Rizwan c Markram b Linde 0 Sharjeel Khan c Markram b Linde 8 Babar Azam b Magala 50 Mohammad Hafeez c Klaasen b Linde 32 Haider Ali c Linde b Shamsi 12 Faheem Ashraf c Linde b Williams 5 Hasan Ali c Linde b Williams 12 Mohammad Nawaz c Klaasen b Williams 2
Shaheen Shah Afridi not out 7 Usman Qadir run out 4 Mohammad Hasnain not out 0 EXTRAS (LB-1, W-4, NB-3) 8 TOTAL (for nine wkts, 20 overs) 140 FALL OF WKTS: 1-0 (Rizwan), 2-10 (Sharjeel), 3-68 (Hafeez), 4-92 (Haider), 5-111 (Faheem), 6-124 (Hasan), 7-128 (Babar), 8-128 (Nawaz), 9-139 (Usman). BOWLING: Linde 4-0-23-3 (1w); Hendricks 4-0-27-0; Shamsi 4-0-22-1; Williams 4-0-35-3; Magala 4-0-32-1 (3nb, 3w).
SOUTH AFRICA: J.N. Malan c Shaheen b Hasan 15 A.K. Markram c Faheem b Qadir 54 W.J. Lubbe c Babar b Hasnain 12 H. Klaasen not out 36 P.J. van Biljon c Rizwan b Usman 2 G.F. Linde not out 20 Extras (lb-1, w-1) 2 Total (for four wkts, 14 overs) 141 FALL OF WKTS: 1-44 (Malan), 2-58 (Lubbe), 3-89 (Markram), 4-92 (van Biljon).
DID NOT BAT: A.L. Phehlukwayo, B.E. Hendricks, L.B. Williams, S.S.B. Magala, T. Shamsi.
BOWLING: Shaheen Shah Afridi 3-0-30-0; Mohammad Nawaz 3-0-29-0; Mohammad Hasnain 2-0-25-1; Hasan Ali 2-0-16-1 (1w); Usman Qadir 3-0-26-1; Faheem Ashraf 1-0-14-0. RESULT: South Africa won by six wickets to level the four-match series 1-1. UMPIRES: A.T. Holdstock (South Africa) and B.P. Jele (South Africa). TV UMPIRE: S. George (South Africa). MATCH REFEREE: A.J. Pycroft (Zimbabwe). MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: George Linde. FIRST MATCH: Johannesburg, Pakistan won by four wickets. THIRD MATCH: Centurion, Wednesday (5:30pm PST). FOURTH MATCH: Centurion, Friday (5:30pm PST).