Pakistan posted a record total before staving off a historic Liam Livingstone onslaught as they won a high-scoring opener in the T20I series against England.

Captain Babar Azam led the way with 85 while opening partner Mohammad Rizwan contributed 63 to help Pakistan – swept 3-0 in the recent one-dayers when facing makeshift opponents – reach an imposing 232-6 in Nottingham.

An innings that struggled for early momentum would finish with a flurry of boundaries, including 152 runs coming from the final 10 overs.

England, who had seen returning skipper Eoin Morgan win the toss and opt to bowl first, lost wickets early and often in the powerplay overs to hamper their reply.

Livingstone, however, kept his team in the race, hitting a maiden international century in stunning fashion. He reached the milestone from a mere 42 balls, making it the fastest ton for England in the shortest format.

Yet with his side's hopes resting firmly on his shoulders, the right-hander fell immediately after reaching three figures with a ninth six, caught in the deep for 103 off the bowling of Shadab Khan when trying to repeat the trick.

The innings finished up at 201, Shaheen Shah Afridi (3-30) taking the final wicket with four balls to spare as Pakistan triumphed by 31 runs.

Amid the carnage in just the third T20I England have played at Trent Bridge, Mohammad Hasnain returned impressive figures of 1-28 from four overs. Shadab was far more expensive, going for 52 runs during his allocation, but he did crucially claim three wickets.


Openers lay the platform

Babar and Rizwan put on 150 despite getting off to a sedate start. Indeed, Pakistan failed to register a six in the first half of their innings yet finished up hitting 12 maximums, England's bowlers unable to stem the sudden flow of runs.

Fakhar Zaman (26) and Mohammad Hafeez (24) hit three apiece during late cameos, while debutant Azam Khan smacked a four from his first ball in international cricket during the final over.

Livingstone makes expedition into record books

Coming in at number five with his team 48-3, Livingstone set about the Pakistan bowlers instantly in the face of a tall order. He reached his half-century from 17 balls – England's previous record for that landmark had been 21 deliveries – and just kept on going, despite receiving limited support.

Jason Roy had made 32 in a hurry at the top of the order, but this was a one-man show for a team welcoming back several regulars following a coronavirus outbreak that had stopped them being involved in the one-dayers.

England completed a clean sweep of their ODI series with Pakistan as Ben Stokes' team mounted a record run chase at Edgbaston.

Set a target of 332 to win, England went into their innings knowing they would have to beat the previous record chase in an ODI in Birmingham by over 50 runs in order to seal a 3-0 series triumph.

Babar Azam's superb 158 had guided Pakistan into a commanding position, but James Vince's maiden ODI century and an impressive 77 from Lewis Gregory inspired the England side in front of a typically vociferous crowd.

And, on the eve of the two-year anniversary of England's World Cup triumph, Brydon Carse – who earlier took a five-wicket haul on his third ODI appearance – delivered the final blow to secure a three-wicket win for Stokes' second-string team.

England's hopes looked glum after Babar's sublime innings. The Pakistan captain came in after four overs, with Fakhar Zaman having fallen to Saqib Mahmood (3-60).

The skipper combined for a 92-run stand with Imam-ul-Haq (56) – bowled out by a magnificent Matt Parkinson delivery – before then mounting a third-wicket partnership worth 179 with Mohammad Rizwan, who plundered 74 off 58 balls.

Carse finally ended Babar's stand in the final over, with the paceman completing his haul two balls later by dismissing Shaheen Afridi for a duck.

Phil Salt followed his 60 at Lord's in emphatic fashion, hitting 16 runs off the first over to give England a fantastic start, though fellow opener Dawid Malan lasted just two deliveries.

Salt's snappy innings came to an end with England at 53-2, but that brought Vince to the crease.

Zak Crawley (39) and Stokes (32) offered support, but their dismissals were followed by England slumping to 165-5, meaning Vince had to provide some impetus.

With Gregory, Vince – who hit 11 boundaries – helped to put on a partnership of 129; by the time he clipped a Haris Rauf ball to mid-off to be out for 102, England needed 38 to win.

Gregory followed Vince to the pavilion soon after, but Craig Overton (18 not out) paved the way for Carse to cap a fine day with a boundary down the ground.

 

VINCE STAKES HIS CLAIM

For so long a nearly man of England's international set-up, Hampshire's Vince has taken his chance in this series.

He scored 56 at Lord's and finally got over the hurdle of a first international limited-overs hundred, to surely put himself right in the selectors' thoughts for England's next ODI series.

BABAR'S EFFORTS LET DOWN BY POOR FIELDING

An ODI career-best from Babar should have been enough to propel his team to victory, yet Pakistan let themselves down in the field.

Three huge chances went down, and their sloppiness was perhaps summed up best by Gregory's dismissal – Shadab Khan left arguing, albeit jovially, with his captain after having to take a catch which really should have been the wicketkeeper's.

The sides meet in a three-match Twenty20 series next, starting on Friday, and Pakistan must improve if they are to restore some pride.

Pakistan will be aiming to extend their winning run in Test cricket when they take on Zimbabwe in the second and final match of the series, which starts on Friday.

Babar Azam's side crushed their hosts by an innings at the Harare Sports Club in the previous meeting, making it three victories on the spin in the format.

Another success at the same venue will see Pakistan achieve their best Test-win streak since managing five consecutive triumphs between December 2011 and February 2012.

Zimbabwe, in contrast, have not prevailed on home soil since September 2013, recording two draws and eight defeats since that last success over Pakistan.

Their problems in the opener stemmed from a lack of runs; bowled out for 176 first time around, they managed just 134 in the second innings.

No home player registered a half-century as Pakistan pace bowler Hasan Ali finished with nine wickets in the match to help his team charge over the line inside three days.

Pakistan could even afford for skipper Babar to get a first-ball duck as they piled up 426 in their one and only innings, Fawad Alam leading the way with 140 as he showed Zimbabwe how to play on a sluggish pitch, batting for nearly five hours in total.

The all-rounder's century was his third in five Tests, having made 102 against New Zealand last December and then 109 in the first Test with South Africa in Karachi in January.

Prince Masvaure did not bat for Zimbabwe in their second innings due to a thumb injury that rules him out of contention. However, captain Sean Williams could be fit to return to action, while Craig Ervine and Wesley Madhevere may also be back to bolster the home team's line-up.

 

Hasan on the rise

Pace bowler Hasan claimed career-best figures of 5-36 in Zimbabwe's second innings, his third five-wicket haul in Test cricket in 2021. Indeed, he has taken 21 scalps at an average of just 15.5 in the format this calendar year.

His reward is a move up to 20th in the ICC Test rankings for bowlers, having only been recalled to the XI earlier this year for the home series with South Africa after a two-year spell out in the cold.

Taylor-made milestone in sight

Zimbabwe's stand-in captain Brendan Taylor admitted his team failed to capitalise on the opportunity to bat first after winning the toss in the opener, bundled out inside two sessions.

He will hope to contribute more himself, particularly with a landmark in sight. Taylor is 66 away from becoming only the third man to post 1,000 Test runs at Harare Sports Club, a feat only previously achieved by Andy and Grant Flower.

Key match facts

- Zimbabwe have managed to record one multi-game Test series victory over Pakistan (D1, L5); after going 0-1 down in this two-game series, they cannot improve upon that record this time around.
- Pakistan have won five of the past six Tests between the nations, while Zimbabwe have gone six without success at Harare Sports Club (D1, L5).
- Zimbabwe managed to catch nine of their 10 opportunities in the field during the series opener, while Pakistan dropped four catches and only recorded a 60 per cent success rate (6/10).
- Donald Tiripano was responsible for eight of the 10 runs scored from reverse sweeps in the first Test; he has logged more runs from that stroke than any other batsman in Tests during 2021 (35).
- Zimbabwe bowled 14 full tosses in their one innings in the series opener, almost three times the number Pakistan logged in their two attempts (five).

Babar Azam became the fastest player to reach 2,000 Twenty20 runs in international cricket as he helped Pakistan secure a series-clinching victory over Zimbabwe on Sunday.

Captain Babar made 52 but it was Mohammad Rizwan's unbeaten 91 that powered Pakistan to 165-3 in the third and final game at the Harare Sports Club.

That total proved beyond Zimbabwe, though Wesley Madhevere (59) had the hosts in contention. They were 102-1 at one stage in reply, only to lose three wickets for eight runs to scupper their hopes.

Tadiwanashe Marumani departed for 35 to trigger the mini collapse and, despite 20 from Brendan Taylor, the innings fell away in the closing stages, finishing up at 141-7 to lose by 24 runs.

Hasan Ali was the star performer for Pakistan with the ball, taking career-best figures of 4-18, as the tourists bounced back after a first ever loss to Zimbabwe in the format on Friday.

With his side bowled out for 99 when chasing in the previous game, Babar opted to bat first after winning the toss. Sharjeel Khan fell for 18 in the powerplay but the skipper combined with opener Rizwan to put on a crucial second-wicket stand worth 126.

The partnership eventually came to an end when Babar was caught in the deep in the final over, with Fakhar Zaman then falling immediately in similar fashion as he registered a first-ball duck.

Luke Jongwe benefited from the late double to finish with figures of 3-37, giving him nine wickets in the series at an average of 8.77. He had claimed 4-18 in his team's victory but the hosts were unable to pull off a repeat result.

The two nations now switch their focus to Test cricket. A two-match series begins in Harare on Thursday.


Rizwan gets maximum rewards

As was the case in the opening fixture, the home team appeared in a strong position in a run chase, only to falter as the finishing line drew into sight. Madhevere hit seven of his team's 16 fours, yet they did not manage a solitary six between them.

Indeed, Rizwan was the only player to clear the boundary rope in the match, doing so three times as he registered a fourth unbeaten half-century in his past seven T20 games.

Captain fantastic in fine form

The ever-consistent Babar has now managed 50 or more on 11 occasions in T20 cricket for Pakistan since the start of 2019, a fine run of form that has helped him reach a notable personal milestone.

He made it to the 2,000-run mark in 52 innings - four fewer than India skipper Virat Kohli. His career average in the format now stands at a hugely impressive 47.32.

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.

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).

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.

Babar Azam and Fawad Alam halted a worrying start to the second Test between Pakistan and South Africa before rain stopped play at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on Thursday.

Pakistan won the opening Test but lost three wickets for just one run as they were reduced to 22-3 in a promising first session for the Proteas on day one.

However, like he did with a century in Karachi last week, Fawad (42no) helped get the hosts back on track by establishing a 123-run partnership with captain Babar (77no).

The pair displayed some wonderful shots as they took the match to South Africa, with Babar racking up 12 fours and Fawad five but rain during tea stopped them returning on 145-3.

Keshav Maharaj would have had a first-ball wicket had Temba Bavuma held on to Imran Butt (15) at first slip on 13 but he got his man courtesy of a sharp catch from wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock, making his final appearance as Test captain.

Maharaj (2-51) had Azhar Ali lbw for a duck in his next over and Pakistan looked in serious trouble when Aiden Markram reacted brilliantly at short leg after Anrich Nortje's rapid delivery struck Abid Ali (6) on the thigh and zoomed towards him.

However, Babar responded by getting off the mark with back-to-back boundaries and, alongside Karachi hero Fawad, steered the hosts to lunch without further loss.

The duo continued to assert themselves and Babar brought up his 16th Test half-century and took Pakistan into triple figures with a fine shot in front of square.

Kagiso Rabada thought he had made the breakthrough but his appeal for lbw against Babar was ignored, with replays showing the skipper sent an inside edge onto his pads.

South Africa were unable to break the impressive fourth-wicket stand before tea and heavy rainfall denied them the chance to make further inroads during the final session.

 

PEAKY LINDE

George Linde left the field during the first session for an X-ray after hurting a finger on his left bowling hand while fielding.

He did not sustain a fracture but received stitches and practiced bowling with protective strapping on before stepping back inside the ropes before tea.

Linde did not bowl another over, but the Proteas will be hoping he can do so before the end of the match, with Dean Elgar having stepped up as a second spin option.

Nauman Ali claimed a maiden five-wicket haul to help Pakistan win the first Test against South Africa in Karachi, despite an early wobble in their run chase.

Having bowled out the Proteas for 245 in the first session on day four, the hosts lost openers Abid Ali and Imran Butt to slip to 23-2 when needing 88.

However, captain Babar Azam made 30 and despite his departure on the brink of victory, trapped lbw by Keshav Maharaj, first-innings centurion Fawad Alam hit the winning boundary to seal a seven-wicket triumph. Azhar Ali, meanwhile, finished up unbeaten on 31.

South Africa have now lost eight successive Tests overseas. They had resumed on 187-4 but managed to add just a further 58 runs for the loss of their final six wickets, debutant Nauman taking four of them as he finished with 5-35 from 25.3 overs.

Nightwatchman Maharaj was dismissed by the first ball of the day, bowled by one that kept a little low from paceman Hasan Ali.

Proteas captain Quinton de Kock then fell to Yasir Shah for two, giving the leg spinner a fourth wicket of the innings.

From then on, though, Nauman took charge. He worked his way through the tail and while Temba Bavuma battled hard, the batsman was last man out when trapped lbw by the left-arm spinner for 40.

Anrich Nortje gave the tourists a glimmer of hope when he dismissed both opening batsmen straight after the lunch break, but South Africa will rue a late clatter of wickets on day three having battled so hard with the bat to wipe out a first-innings deficit of 168.

 

Nauman makes an immediate impact

At 34 years and 111 days, Nauman was the fourth oldest debutant for Pakistan in the format. The wait proved worthwhile, though, as he finished with impressive match figures of 7-73.

While Yasir claimed the key scalp of De Kock, it was his fellow slow bowler who made sure the home team were left with a manageable target on a tired pitch showing obvious signs of variable bounce.

Babar celebrates home comforts

Despite his late dismissal - falling for a second time in the game to the left-arm spin of Maharaj - Babar can reflect on a satisfying first outing as Test skipper, having missed the 2-0 series defeat in New Zealand due to injury.

As was the case against the Black Caps, the top order struggled for runs. However, Fawad's superb first-innings century helped lead a recovery and the result means Pakistan cannot lose the series now. The second and final match takes place in Rawalpindi, starting on February 4.

Babar Azam will finally get the chance to lead Pakistan in Test cricket as a two-match series against South Africa begins in Karachi on Tuesday.  

Batsman Babar was appointed to the role last November, yet missed both Tests on the tour of New Zealand, as well as the Twenty20 series that followed, after suffering a fractured thumb during a practice session.  

Mohammad Rizwan took charge in the regular skipper’s absence, though he was unable to prevent Pakistan slipping to a 2-0 defeat against the Black Caps.  

The return of Babar on home soil is a boost, not least because he will bolster a batting line-up that struggled badly in New Zealand.  

Shan Masood has lost his place at the top of the order following a lack of runs, while the Pakistan selectors also left out Haris Sohail and Mohammad Abbas from an initial 20-man squad.  

Opener Imran Butt is set to make his Test debut at the National Stadium, a venue where the home team have lost only one of their last seven Tests, albeit that defeat did come against the Proteas, back in October 2007.  

Both Shadab Khan and Naseem Shah are missing due to injuries, while Abbas' absence from the bowling attack could lead to a recall for Hasan Ali.

As for South Africa, they have arrived fresh from a 2-0 series sweep over Sri Lanka. Quinton de Kock continues in charge, the wicketkeeper-batsman set to play in his 50th Test in the opener. 

The Proteas captain has Kagiso Rabada available again, bolstering a pace attack that performed so impressively against Sri Lanka without him. With Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi and Lutho Sipamla also vying to play, there are a wealth of options when it comes to seam bowling.

However, the balancing act for South Africa will come over whether to select two spinners. Tabraiz Shamsi is the likely option to come into the XI, joining forces with fellow slow bowler Keshav Maharaj. 
 

NO PLACE LIKE HOME 

His absence keenly felt in New Zealand, Babar will be determined to make up for lost time when he goes up against South Africa in his homeland. 

The stylish right-hander has scored 50 or more in each of his four Test innings in Pakistan, including three centuries. His batting average in the country (202.5) is the best by any player in Test history there. 
 

MILESTONES IN SIGHT FOR DE KOCK 

There is the potential for not one but two major milestones for De Kock, who had a relatively quiet series with the bat against Sri Lanka. 

The destructive left-hander is just 38 away from becoming the 16th player to score 3,000 Test runs for South Africa. He equalled his highest Test score (129) in his most recent innings against Pakistan two years ago, too. 


KEY MATCH FACTS

- South Africa have lost only one of their 10 multi-game Test series against Pakistan (W6, D3), that loss coming when they toured Pakistan in 2003 (1-0).

- Lutho Sipamla finished with a bowling strike-rate of 23.9 in the Proteas' most recent Test series (10 wickets against Sri Lanka), the best by any player. 

- Pakistan have lost only one of their last eight Test series on home soil (W5, D2), though that solitary setback came against South Africa (1-0 in October 2007).

- Mohammad Rizwan has scored 50+ in five of his previous six Test innings, having done so only once in his first 11 at the crease in the format.

- Faf du Plessis has faced Shaheen Afridi in three Test innings heading into this series, being dismissed by the Pakistan paceman on each occasion while scoring just 27 runs in response.

New Zealand will aim to continue their winning streak in the second and final Test against Pakistan, with Kane Williamson's side having the chance to make history in Christchurch.

The home team won the opening game by 101 runs late on the fifth day in Mount Maunganui, finally seeing off spirited resistance from Pakistan's tail with 4.3 overs remaining.

Victory means the Black Caps have now won five Tests on the spin – they have never previously managed six in a row in the format.

There will be at least one change to their team for their first outing in 2021, Neil Wagner ruled out with a broken toe.

The left-arm paceman played on through the pain in the first Test, earning praise from Williamson. However, he is expected to be sidelined for six weeks, leading to New Zealand calling up Matt Henry.

As for Pakistan, they are set to be boosted by the return of captain Babar Azam, who missed the previous game – as well as the Twenty20 series that preceded the Test action – with a broken thumb.

Without their talismanic captain, the tourists were fragile at the top of the order. They fought back well from 52-5 to post 239 in their first innings, while nearly saved the game despite slipping to 37-3 second time around.

They will be up against it, though; New Zealand have lost only one of their previous seven Tests played at Hagley Oval, a seven-wicket defeat to Australia in February 2016.

 

ON TOP OF THE WORLD

Williamson had a fabulous 2020 in Test cricket, despite the international schedule being badly hampered by the coronavirus pandemic.

The right-hander had the highest average (83) in the format across the previous calendar year out of those players to have had at least four innings, with his knock of 129 in the first Test – combined with Steve Smith's struggles for runs against India – moving him back to the top of the ICC world rankings for Test batsmen.

A career-best score of 251 against West Indies substantially helped his cause. That was his only innings in the series too, as he missed the second Test due to the birth of his first child.

PAKISTAN SET FOR BABAR BOOST

The tourists felt the absence of their captain in the series opener and still almost fought their way to a draw.

Mohammad Rizwan, who was the skipper in the first Test, said Babar was on track for a return, but a decision would have to wait until Sunday.

"He is fine now. He wants to hit some more balls in the nets and we'll decide [on Sunday]," he said, via the New Zealand Herald. "He's a legend and wants to hit some more balls because [on Friday] he batted very well. If he plays, we bat around him. He has a great impact on our team."

Babar, 26, averages 45.44 in 29 Tests for Pakistan, who are aiming to level the series.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- New Zealand will be looking to win a third consecutive multi-game bilateral Test series against Pakistan.
- Pakistan are winless in their past 10 Tests outside their own country (D2, L8). However, their last such victory did come against New Zealand, by an innings and 16 runs (November 2018 in Dubai).
- Tom Latham has scored 579 Test runs at Hagley Oval, 214 more than any other player at the venue and his second most at any ground in the format (696 at Basin Reserve).
- Ross Taylor is 13 away from becoming just the fifth player to score 1,000 runs in Tests between New Zealand and Pakistan. He would be only the second Kiwi to achieve the feat (after Williamson).
- Tim Southee has a bowling average of 19.9 in Tests at Hagley Oval, his best at any home venue. He has picked up five or more wickets in six of his seven appearances at the venue.

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