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.

Hasan Ali ripped out South Africa's lower order before the visitors' spinners kept them in an intriguing contest with Pakistan.

Hasan (5-54) claimed the second five-wicket haul of his Test career as the Proteas were bundled out for 201, giving Pakistan a first-innings lead of 71 on day three of the second Test.

Keshav Maharaj (2-74) and George Linde then shared five wickets to prevent the hosts from pulling away, although Faheem Ashraf (29) and Mohammad Rizwan (28 not out) combined for a vital sixth-wicket stand of 52.

Slow left-armer Linde (3-12) persuaded Faheem to slice to Anrich Nortje at backward point in the penultimate over, but a score of 129-6 at stumps means Pakistan's lead is 200 on a surface already displaying variable bounce.

South Africa resumed on 106-4 in their first innings, with plenty of their hopes pinned on Quinton de Kock. Unfortunately, the captain could only add five to his overnight 24 before being bowled when driving at Shaheen Afridi.

Afridi was also responsible for running out Wiaan Mulder, who pushed for two down to fine leg and departed for 33, ending a 49-run stand with Temba Bavuma, who was left high and dry on 44 not out.

That was largely down to Hasan, who bowled Linde for 21 before rearranging Maharaj and Nortje's stumps.

Kagiso Rabada became the fourth South African run out in the series but made amends by trapping Imran Butt lbw for a duck. That was part of a masterful new-ball spell with Nortje as the South Africa pacemen began the innings with 25 dot balls.

Maharaj still came into the attack early and wheeled through 21 of the 51 overs bowled, having Abid Ali caught behind sweeping for 13 and pinning Babar Azam lbw for eight - the third time in four innings the Pakistan captain has fallen to South Africa's premier spinner.

Linde was able to offer Maharaj far more effective support this time around, having lacerated the little finger on his bowling hand during the first innings, and had Azhar Ali leg before for 33 and Fawad Alam pouched at short leg.

PROFLIGATE PROTEAS

After Nortje - operating at a blistering pace just shy of 150 km/h - and Rabada put the shackles on Pakistan and Maharaj and Linde got among the wickets, a route to a series-levelling victory was starting to open up in Rawalpindi. However, Faheem was dropped on nought by Dean Elgar at slip off Linde and next ball Rizwan edged Maharaj to Rassie van der Dussen at silly point, only to be similarly spared. In the final analysis of a low-scoring contest, those mistakes might look absolutely dire.

TOUGH START AT THE TOP FOR BUTT

Butt's exit without troubling the scorers continued a meagre start to the 25-year-old's Test career. A first-innings 15 here is his best effort in four attempts. There are few sterner examinations to be had for Test openers as when Rabada and Nortje are in the mood; however, Butt must earn the right to sail in less choppy waters.

South Africa face a battle to avoid another first-innings deficit after Anrich Nortje's fine work with the ball was undone by a rocky reply to Pakistan's 272 in the second Test.

Pakistan had made 145-3 on day one before rain intervened and Nortje was the cause of their frustration when play resumed on Friday, snaring 5-56 to put the hosts in the field before tea.

But the Proteas' solid early efforts with the bat - including a string of boundaries - were disrupted by Hasan Ali, who removed Dean Elgar (15) and Rassie van der Dussen from consecutive deliveries.

With those wickets right at the end of the second session, the day turned and Faf du Plessis followed to Faheem Ashraf for 17.

Nauman Ali - sublime in the first Test as Pakistan dominated - then teed up a simple but crucial catch for Shaheed Afridi to remove Aiden Markram (32), reducing South Africa to 81-4 before a mini-recovery to 106 without further loss preceded the close of play.

It ended a day of two halves as the Proteas, just like a day earlier, enjoyed a productive first session, with Babar Azam unable to add to his overnight score of 77, edging Nortje to second slip from just the second ball of the day.

Fawad Alam (45), who had held up the other end of a vital partnership on Thursday, swiftly followed, too, run out with a superb direct hit from Temba Bavuma.

Faheem steadied the Pakistan innings slightly, although Nortje's decision to take the second new ball soon paid dividends as he halted Mohammad Rizwan (18) in his next over.

That dismissal ended a promising stand of 41 and Faheem eventually ran out of partners, still unbeaten on 78 as Nortje concluded the innings and his five-for with fierce deliveries to Nauman and Shaheen in the same over.

Only if South Africa can regain some composure with the bat will Nortje be able to celebrate his contribution to a much-needed win, which would be their first in 14 Tests on the subcontinent.


HASAN ALI HAVING HIS SAY

Hasan has endured a tough time with injury in the past few years, returning to the Test arena in this series for the first time since January 2019. If the fast bowler was merely playing a supporting role to the spinners in the opening match last week, this was a more telling contribution, potentially changing the course of the result.

SOUTH AFRICA TURN TO SKIPPER

Quinton de Kock would appear to be taking charge of his final Test match as South Africa captain but may now have to rediscover his best form to make sure it is not a losing swan song. The skipper has not made a Test fifty since January 2020 or a hundred since October 2019, yet the Proteas were reeling as he arrived at the crease on Friday, able to settle the innings a little by dashing to an unbeaten 24 at stumps.

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.

South Africa will want to avoid being on the wrong end of a series sweep as they aim to end a barren run in Asia when they go up against Pakistan in the second Test. 

Having suffered a seven-wicket defeat in Rawalpindi, the Proteas are now winless in their previous 13 Tests on the subcontinent, a dismal run of form that followed a 153-run victory over Sri Lanka in Galle in July 2014. 

The tourists were undone by Pakistan's spin pairing of Yasir Shah and Nauman Ali in the first game, with the duo taking 14 of the 20 South Africa wickets to fall at the National Stadium. 

However, the venue for the second Test could offer a little more help to the quicker bowlers, a welcome boost for struggling South Africa as they bid to draw level. 

Their plans for the first Test were hampered by the late withdrawal of Tabraiz Shamsi, who suffered a back issue in the warm-up and had to be replaced by paceman Lungi Ngidi.  

Shamsi has recovered in time to be considered for selection, while opening batsman Dean Elgar is also fit to play after a taking a nasty blow to the hand while batting in his team's second innings. 

South Africa fought hard in the face of a hefty first-innings deficit but were left with too much to do after only making 220 on day one. Amid the frustration, all the top seven in the order reached double figures but failed to build on it, their cause not helped by both Rassie van der Dussen and Temba Bavuma getting run out. 

As for the hosts, their line-up may well depend on the pitch. Considering the balance of the side worked so well last time out, it could be they go with the same XI again. 

The top order did struggle but Fawad Alam's century and a wagging tail helped rescue their first innings, having at one stage slumped to 27-4 late on day one. Babar Azam had a quiet debut in his role as Test captain in terms of his output with the bat, managing 37 runs in his two knocks.

CAPTAINCY SWANSONG FOR DE KOCK? 

It appears Quinton de Kock is set for his final Test in charge of the Proteas – for now at least. The wicketkeeper-batsman may have been set to continue in the role for the Tests against Australia on home soil, but that series has been postponed. Instead, the break will allow De Kock to get some well-earned rest and team management to assess their options. 

"When we get back after this tour we've got a bit of time before our next series so we can sit down and make a good, solid call on who can take over from him and release him from that burden and try and get the best out of him," South Africa coach Mark Boucher said on the eve of the game. 

 
SPINNERS IN SIGHT FOR YASIR 

Yasir played a pivotal role in the opener, finishing with match figures of 7-133. His haul in Karachi takes his career tally in Tests to 234 wickets, meaning he is just three shy of fifth place on the all-time list for Pakistan.  

The great Abdul Qadir currently occupies the spot, while another leg-spinner in Danish Kaneria sits third on 261. However, there is some way to go to catch the bowler on top; Wasim Akram finished his career with 414 wickets at a ridiculously impressive average of 23.62.  


KEY MATCH FACTS

- South Africa will be looking to avoid a fourth consecutive multi-game Test series loss away from home; it would be the first time the Proteas have lost as many such series in succession since losing each of their first seven in the format (July 1907 – February 1932).

- Pakistan won their most recent Test at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium by an innings and 44 runs (against Bangladesh, February 2020). They will be aiming to secure back-to-back triumphs at the venue for the first time.

- Babar Azam has scored a century in each of his previous two Test innings in Rawalpindi; no player has more at the venue in the format (Saeed Anwar and Michael Slater also have two).

- Pakistan have dropped 13 catches in Tests so far this year, the most by any side and one of only two in double figures (India – 10).

- Kagiso Rabada has a bowling strike rate of 41.1 in Test cricket, the best by any player to take at least 150 wickets in the format.

- Faheem Ashraf finished with the best dot ball percentage (89.3 per cent) of any bowler in the first Test, though it was the first time he has failed to claim a wicket.

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.

Kagiso Rabada put his impressive achievement of reaching 200 Test wickets down to hard work but insisted the "show goes on" after becoming the third fastest South African to reach the milestone.  

The Proteas paceman claimed 3-70 in Pakistan’s first innings during the series opener in Karachi, with the last of those wickets seeing him get to the notable personal landmark in his international career.  

Hasan Ali was bowled to see Rabada make it to 200 on day three of his 44th Test outing; only Dale Steyn (39) and Allan Donald (42) have managed it in fewer appearances for South Africa.  

He is also the third quickest ever when it comes to deliveries bowled – Waqar Younis and Steyn sit above him on that list – having recorded nine five-wicket hauls and taken 10 in a match on four occasions.  

For Rabada, there remains the appetite within to keep on improving, worrying words for opposing batsmen around the world when you consider he is still just 25. 

"It's just hard work and spending a lot of time on your craft, seeing where you can get better," Rabada told the media about his success in the Test arena. "Analysing it, but not over-thinking it.  

"It hasn't all been easy – you find yourself trying to perfect something that might seem so simple, but it's constant repetition, hours and hours of work, so being relentless with that and trying to see how much better you can get and finding ways."

Asked about being in the same company as compatriot Steyn and Pakistan great Waqar when it comes to balls bowled, Rabada replied: "It's a massive feat to be included in a list of such names.  

"When you start playing you don't ever think that you'd be on such a list and have such statistics. All you want to do is the best that you can. 

"I'm really glad, it's satisfying; it's a great milestone, but the show goes on."

Rabada missed the chance to bring up his 200th wicket on home soil as he did not feature in the recent series against Sri Lanka in South Africa, the Proteas understandably taking no risks with their premier strike bowler upon his return from a groin injury.

It meant his appearance against Pakistan was his first in the format since the third match of the series against England, back in January 2020. 

"Test cricket never gets old, never gets any easier as well – you are constantly challenged," Rabada explained upon his return to duty for his country

"Playing in Pakistan as well, it's quite an amazing place. The only place that I haven't played previously, so I'm glad to have the opportunity to play here.  

"It's been hard work, just like any Test match, especially in the subcontinent where you have to be more patient. It teaches you a lot of lessons and I've been reminded of some of them."

Pakistan took three priceless wickets in a devastating 25-minute burst before the close to leave South Africa in deep trouble in the first Test.

A gripping third day of the clash in Karachi looked set to be one that ended with South Africa in healthy shape in their second innings, but the impressive Yasir Shah had other thoughts and helped reduce the tourists to 187-4, for a slender lead of 29 runs.

The losses of Rassie van der Dussen (64), Faf du Plessis (10) and Aiden Markram (74) in that rush of wickets meant the advantage was firmly with Pakistan at the close.

In the first of two Tests, Pakistan had earlier frustrated their visitors with the bat when a wagging tail saw them move from 308-8 at the start of Thursday's play to 378 all out.

That gave Pakistan a first-innings lead of 158, not bad going for a team who had been 27-4 at one stage.

Kagiso Rabada removed Hasan Ali in the morning, smashing his middle stump out of the ground, and the South Africa paceman's figures of 3-70 took him to 200 Test wickets.

But Pakistan's lower order largely showed impressive defiance, and number 11 batsman Yasir, who has a Test century to his name, was stranded on 38 not out when Nauman Ali (24) was last man out.

Yasir would soon get his leg breaks turning and removed Dean Elgar for 29 to break up South Africa's opening partnership.

Markram, who has enjoyed hot spells with the bat on home soil, then looked to have chosen an opportune moment to make a first Test half-century outside South Africa, but the events of the final half-hour saw Pakistan wrest back control.

Abid Ali took a sharp catch at silly mid-off to give Yasir the important wicket of Van der Dussen, ending a 127-run second-wicket partnership.

Du Plessis had an early life when a review spared him an lbw dismissal, the ball from Yasir shown to have pitched millimetres outside leg stump.

But Yasir would not be denied for long and soon had his man pinned in front again, with no doubts second time around.

Markram was prised out by Nauman moments later, prodding to silly mid-off, as the complexion of the contest changed completely.


Yasir a game-changer

First came his quickfire runs from number 11, the sort of innings that causes opponents deep frustration, but then we saw Yasir at his best with the ball. Markram and Van der Dussen looked to be leading South Africa to a healthy position - and to be only one down and back in the black at the start of Friday's play would have been a huge boon. But Yasir (3-53) kept his focus sharp and his deliveries repeatedly hitting the mark in those closing overs, and the rewards deservedly came his way.

Breakthrough for Markram

The South Africa opener has four Test centuries but until this innings he had curiously never posted a fifty outside his home country in the five-day game. It was a purposeful, positive knock and looked set to see him grab the day's headlines, until Yasir put the Proteas in a spin. With wickets falling at the other end, Nauman seized the moment to prise out a presumably distracted Markram and land perhaps the most telling blow of all.

Hope for tourists?

If Pakistan were able to battle back from 27-4, then why shouldn't South Africa, who are 29 runs ahead in the match but also four down, also find runs in their middle and lower orders? Temba Bavuma and Keshav Maharaj have recent Test half-centuries, and the influence of captain Quinton de Kock, who resumes on nought on Friday, could be all-important.

Fawad Alam made his third Test century as Pakistan took the upper hand on a frustrating day two for South Africa in Karachi.

Pakistan resumed on Wednesday in deep trouble on 33-4 in reply to the Proteas' 220 all out but recovered to 308-8 at stumps with an 88-run lead at the National Stadium.

Fawad made a superb 109, while Azhar Ali (51) and Faheem Ashraf (64) also played big hands as Babar Azam's side turned the tide following such a dramatic opening day of the two-match series.

Left-hander Fawad was dropped on 35 and 92 by Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock respectively before bringing up his hundred with a six off spinner Keshav Maharaj.

The Proteas failed to take a wicket in the first session, which ended with Pakistan on 104-4, but former captain Azhar was caught behind off Maharaj (2-71) to end a stand of 94 with Fawad after digging in for a 33rd half-century in the longest format.

Mohammad Rizwan (33) fell to Lungi Ngidi in the final over before tea to leave Pakistan 176-6, but Fawad and Faheem took Pakistan into the lead with a partnership of 102.

Ngidi (2-55) ended Fawad's brilliant 245-ball knock and Faheem played on to an Anrich Nortje (2-84) yorker, but it was very much Pakistan's day, with Maharaj denied a third wicket when he bowled Hasan Ali but over-stepped.

Fawad making up for lost time

Middle-order batsman Fawad has made up for lost time after being recalled to face England last August almost 11 years after his previous Test appearance.

The left-hander was rattled on the helmet by Kagiso Rabada and had some deserved fortune as he played superbly to put Pakistan in a strong position.

Fawad has gone on to reach three figures on all three occasions he has made a half-century. He struck two sixes and found the rope nine times before he was taken by Temba Bavuma at short midwicket to become Ngidi's second victim.

Rabada made to wait for landmark

Proteas paceman Rabada took two wickets in a devastating new-ball burst late on day one, but remains one shy of 200 Test scalps.

He bowled probing lines without reward and was economical, missing out on reaching the landmark when captain De Kock dropped Fawad in the 90s.

Kagiso Rabada struck twice as Pakistan made a nightmare start to their reply after bowling South Africa out on a dramatic day one of the Test series in Karachi.

The Proteas, touring Pakistan for the first time in 14 years, were dismissed for 220 after winning the toss at the National Stadium on Tuesday, Yasir Shah taking 3-54.

Dean Elgar (58) made a half-century but South Africa lost four wickets in the afternoon session and were all out not long after tea, debutant Nauman Ali and paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi finishing with two wickets apiece.

Rabada, playing his first Test for just over a year, then brought Pakistan back down to earth as he took 2-8 in six overs and they were in deep trouble on 33-4 at stumps.

Fit-again paceman Rabada removed Imran Butt for only nine on his debut and dismissed Abid Ali before Keshav Maharaj claimed the huge scalp of Babar Azam for just seven in his first innings as Test captain.

Anrich Nortje got in on the act by seeing the back of nightwatchman Afridi and Pakistan will resume on day two trailing by 187 runs.

The tourists had early been going along nicely on 63-1 until Rassie van der Dussen was run out by a combination of Babar and Mohammad Rizwan and they stumbled to 179-6 at tea, Elgar edging Nauman (2-38) to Babar at first slip after digging in for a valuable half-century.

George Linde chipped in with 35 before falling to the recalled Hasan Ali and Rabada made an unbeaten 21 before making a big impact with the ball as South Africa hit back late in the day to take the upper hand.

Proteas in a spin

Pakistan are without a win in five Tests and arrived home smarting from a 2-0 loss in New Zealand but made an encouraging start to this two-match series.

A brilliant slip catch from Butt off the bowling of Afridi accounted for Aiden Markram, but it was the spinners who did the bulk of the damage. Yasir got rid of Faf du Plessis, while Nauman – the fourth-oldest Test debutant for Pakistan aged 34 – claimed the scalps of skipper Quinton de Kock and Elgar as South Africa folded.

Rapid Rabada on brink of 200 club

Rabada came steaming in with the new ball to turn the tide, sending Abid Ali's off stump cartwheeling out of the ground before snaring Butt, who was caught at leg gully.

The paceman is now just one away from two 200 Test scalps and will come charging in again on day two with Pakistan in the mire after Maharaj trapped Babar in front and Afridi was bowled by Nortje for a duck.

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