West Indies made it 2-2 in the five-match Twenty20 series against South Africa on Thursday, captain Kieron Pollard top-scoring with 51 and Dwayne Bravo taking four wickets. 

The Windies posted 167-6 and successfully defended the total to ensure everything is still left to play for in Saturday's final match in the T20 series. 

South Africa, who last won a T20 series in March 2019 against Sri Lanka, have not successfully chased a target above 160 since February 2018 when they beat India.

West Indies enjoyed a superb opening over, plundering 20 from the bowling of Aiden Markram – their most in the first over of a T20 and the most by any team batting first in this format.

South Africa responded well to that early setback, however, taking six wickets in the next 15 overs, with George Linde in particularly impressive form, the 29-year-old putting in the most economical performance of his T20 career, conceding just 16 runs in four overs.

The Proteas undermined their efforts in the closing stages as they conceded 66 runs in the final four overs. 

Pollard and Fabian Allen scored six sixes in that period, while the former hit three in three balls off Kagiso Rabada, who bowled his most expensive T20 over.

The impressive Pollard brought up a sixth T20 half-century and his highest score in seven innings as Lungi Ngidi's (0-48) two death overs cost 30 runs. 

Allen suffered what looked like a dislocated shoulder as he tried to cut off a Temba Bavuma sweep as South Africa attempted to start their chase strongly, with his overs made up for by Pollard and Andre Russell. 

Quinton de Kock did his best to drive his team forward, the former captain scoring a second successive half-century (60) and a sixth T20 fifty in his last 15 matches, but no other South Africa batter scored more than 20.

Bravo rolls back the years

Bravo made light of Allen's absence with a superb display. He took the wickets of Linde, de Kock, Tabraiz Shamsi and Ngidi in 12 balls in the closing stages of the match to eventually finish with career-best figures of 4-19.

Rabada sums up Proteas' woes

South Africa's chances of victory collapsed during a dismal final four overs, with Kagiso Rabada particularly generous. His penultimate over of the innings proved to be the most expensive at 25 runs, while he did not complete a full quota of four overs for the first time in a T20 match since his debut in 2014. 

South Africa moved 2-1 ahead in the five-match Twenty20 series against West Indies on Tuesday, Kagiso Rabada holding his nerve to clinch a one-run win in Grenada.

Quinton de Kock marked his 50th international appearance in the format by smashing 72 from 51 deliveries, helping the Proteas to post 167-8 - their highest total so far.

Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen contributed 23 and 32 respectively, yet South Africa lost a clatter of wickets in the closing stages.

Obed McCoy claimed two in the penultimate over as he finished with career-best figures of 4-22. There was also a run out to follow in the next, the last of five wickets to go down for the addition of just 20 runs across the final 18 deliveries.

Evin Lewis (27) and new opening partner Lendl Simmons (22) added 51 for the first wicket in West Indies' reply, yet for the second outing in a row they faltered in the face of high-class spin.

Having claimed 1-16 last time out, Tabraiz Shamsi seemingly turned the match in his team's favour by taking 2-13, Lewis and Shimron Hetmyer (17) the batsmen to depart to the left-arm slow bowler.

Andre Russell blasted 25 in a hurry but his departure at the end of an expensive Anrich Nortje over shifted a see-saw contest back in favour of South Africa. Left needing 15 off the last, West Indies came up just short despite a final-ball six from Fabian Allen.


Proteas set the pace thanks to De Kock

De Kock celebrated reaching a personal milestone with a brutal display of hitting, his 51-ball knock at the top of the order including five fours and two sixes. The wicketkeeper-batsman is in impressive form, having now scored 266 runs in his past five T20 innings away from home.

Call of duty needs a reboot

The West Indies have batted second in each of their past 10 T20I meetings with South Africa, winning the toss in all but one of those games. However, the strategic decision may need a rethink before the sides face each other again, as they have gone on to win on just four of those occasions.

South Africa levelled the five-match Twenty20 series against West Indies at 1-1 as spin played a key role in clinching a 16-run win in Grenada on Sunday.

The Proteas appeared to have failed to capitalise on a strong start with the bat when posting 166-7, only slightly above the total they had been unable to defend in the opening game 24 hours earlier.

West Indies had cruised to an eight-wicket victory on Saturday, but this time around they were bamboozled by South Africa's slow bowlers, George Linde (2-19) and Tabraiz Shamsi (1-16) taking 3-35 from their eight overs combined.

Fabian Allen's late onslaught – the all-rounder smashed 34 off just 12 deliveries – kept his team in with a slender chance, but even three sixes off Lungi Ngidi (1-49) in the 20th over were not enough. The innings finished at 150-9, in the process ending West Indies' two-match winning run in the format.

 

South Africa had appeared on course to set a more challenging target when openers Reeza Hendricks and Quinton de Kock (26) put on 73, the stand coming to an end when the latter fell to Kevin Sinclair (2-23).

Captain Temba Bavuma (46) continued the good work of the first-wicket pairing as the tourists reached the midway stage on 95-1, yet they lost their way in the second half of the innings.

The miserly Sinclair accounted for Hendricks, who made 42, and the promise of a late push was curtailed by regular wickets, the Proteas slipping from 122-3 as Obed McCoy (3-25) excelled with the ball at the death.

The real McCoy? Absolutely!

Left-arm seamer McCoy returned his best T20 figures in international cricket, aided by going for just three runs in the 20th over. His back-of-the-hand slower ball accounted for both Heinrich Klaasen and Linde as South Africa slumped down the stretch, albeit the stuttering finish did not cost them in the end.

Allen just Fab, but still not enough

Andre Fletcher did make 35, but the opener used up 36 deliveries in the process of top scoring for West Indies. In contrast, Allen rushed along at a stunning strike-rate of 283.33 runs per 100 balls. His late cameo included five sixes but Ngidi got him in the end, trapped lbw by a yorker from the penultimate ball.

West Indies T20 captain, Kieron Pollard, insists he will not be overly perturbed by the din surrounding the selection of some senior players for the team, as a debate would have surrounded the squad regardless.

The selection of veteran players Chris Gayle, Fidel Edwards, and Dwayne Bravo has ruffled the feathers of some fans who insist the team should be more focused on developing younger players. 

With the T20 World Cup coming up, however, the position of the panel of selectors, and articulated by Pollard himself, has been to leave the door open for any player that can meaningfully contribute to the team winning a third title.

Gayle (41), Edwards (39), and Bravo (37) have been called up to the team ahead of a series of T20 contests, ahead of the global tournament, which began with a series against Sri Lanka back in February.

“When you look at if from a logical perspective if you go with youngsters there will still be noise.  No matter what you do there will be noise,” Pollard told members of the media, in addressing the issue.

“So, I think it’s what’s best for us, what’s best for us, and what we think is best for us going into a tournament like that.  If those guys can be assets for us, then why not get the opportunity to use the little bit of experience or a little bit of cricket that they may have left in them," he added.

“It’s a situation that we are looking to pick the best team.  So, these guys they play around the world, and we get the opportunity to see them play around the world and we wonder why they are not playing for us but then when we select them, we ask the questions, why are we selecting them?  Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”   

Liam Livingstone led England to a Twenty20 series win over Sri Lanka despite the tourists threatening a comeback in Thursday's second match.

In the absence of Jos Buttler, who was nursing a calf injury, Livingstone's 29 from 26 balls ensured an eighth consecutive victory at Sophia Gardens in this format.

After Sri Lanka had posted 111-7, the lowest score England had ever conceded over 20 overs, the hosts survived a wobble high up the order and a rain delay in Cardiff to post 108-5 and win by five wickets via the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method.

Sam Curran (1-8) produced a finish arguably more worthy of Wembley Stadium to run out Danushka Gunathilaka, side-footing the ball right into the stumps as England made a solid start after losing the toss.

Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis brought up a partnership of 50 from 53 balls, but the Sri Lanka captain was gone off the next delivery from Mark Wood, a reverse sweep coming right off the toe of the bat and straight to Eoin Morgan.

Wood then claimed two from two deliveries, Bairstow clearing the decks to catch a high ball from Mendis before Morgan was given a simple take at midwicket from Niroshan Dickwella. A hat-trick very nearly followed, Wanindu Hasaranga – who was later stumped by Bairstow from Adil Rashid's delivery – almost edging to slip.

Sri Lanka did at least get to three figures in the final over, Isuru Udana finishing on 19 after a huge swing for six cleared the stands, and when Bairstow and Dawid Malan fell for the loss of eight runs, England's routine-looking chase suddenly seemed uncertain.

Morgan was caught for 11 before Sam Billings and Livingstone steadied the ship, England reaching 69-4 before rain halted proceedings.

Once play resumed with a revised target of 103, Livingstone read a full ball from Dushmantha Chameera and hooked an exquisite shot into the stands to calm any lingering nerves.

Billings was skittled by Hasaranga (2-20) but it mattered little, Curran smashing a six to settle the contest just as the rain began to fall again.

Sri Lanka far too brittle with the bat

England's fifth consecutive T20 win over Sri Lanka had looked nailed on, but it became rather more nail-biting as Hasaranga led an accomplished early attack.

Ultimately, it was too little, too late after another poor batting effort. Sri Lanka entered this match with 28 sixes in T20 matches since the start of 2020, the lowest figure among Test nations, and Udana's final-over flourish produced the only boundaries they managed once Mendis had gone.

 

England make history

England have now won back-to-back multi-game bilateral men's T20 series on home soil for the first time, having beaten Australia 2-1 last September.

While Morgan could only manage 11 runs at a ground where he averaged 102 from his five previous innings, Livingstone and Wood stepped up with bat and ball to make Saturday's third match in Southampton a chance to throw off the shackles.

England maintained their 100 per cent record in Twenty20 games played at Sophia Gardens thanks to a resounding eight-wicket win over Sri Lanka in their series opener.

Jos Buttler made 68 not out as England made it seven wins from seven at the venue in Cardiff, this latest triumph sealed with 17 balls to spare as they easily overhauled Sri Lanka's below-par 129-7.

Jason Roy gave the chase a fast start with 36 from 22 deliveries in an 80-run opening stand with Buttler, who hit eight fours and a six during his 55-ball knock.

Wanindu Hasaranga did excel with the ball for the tourists, giving up just 12 runs in his four-over spell, while Isuru Udana bowled Dawid Malan for seven off 14 balls. Jonny Bairstow finished up unbeaten on 13.

Sri Lanka had earlier been indebted to a half-century from Dasun Shanaka, his second at international level in the format, having opted to bat first after winning the toss.

Danushka Gunathilaka made 19 at the top of the order and captain Kusal Perera contributed 30, but the tourists struggled for momentum as they slipped to 79-5 at the start of the 14th over.

Adil Rashid claimed 2-17 in four economical overs, while there was a wicket for Liam Livingstone too. Shanaka made sure Sri Lanka at least finished strongly, hitting three fours and a pair of sixes as 25 came from the final two overs, but their total was no problem for England's powerful batting line-up.


Opening role just perfect for Buttler

Buttler has made clear his desire to continue opening in T20 action for England - and the numbers support his case. This was his ninth half-century in 20 innings at the top of the order, with the milestone arriving from 38 balls with a pulled four to the square leg boundary.

Tourists toil again in format

Sri Lanka have lost 10 of their previous 11 completed T20 matches, a worrying run of form with a World Cup to come later in the year. They do not have to wait long for an opportunity to draw level in this series at least, as the teams meet again at the same venue on Thursday.

England will be looking to extend their winning streak against struggling Sri Lanka when the Twenty20 series begins on Wednesday in Cardiff.

The three matches between the nations provide an opportunity to continue building towards this year's T20 World Cup, though the hosts are without two key players due to injuries.

Fast bowler Jofra Archer is sidelined after surgery on his right elbow, while Ben Stokes is not yet ready to return to England duty following a broken finger. However, the all-rounder is playing again for Durham, suggesting an international comeback is not too far away.

Reece Topley is another to be ruled out of action, with England opting for David Willey as an alternative left-arm bowling option. Jonny Bairstow and Dawid Malan have been injury doubts ahead of the opening fixture, though captain Eoin Morgan said on Tuesday he expects both to be available.

England's limited-overs skipper was also asked again about the possibility of a return for Alex Hales, with the batsman having not played for England since being withdrawn from the 50-over squad just prior to the 2019 World Cup.

"There are conversations to be had between Alex, myself and the coach and potentially a few of the players," Morgan told the media. "Trying to get those happening in Covid times has been an issue. They will happen at some stage."

England have won three on the spin against Sri Lanka, who have been beaten in nine of their last 10 completed outings in T20 cricket. Their solitary win during the miserable run came against West Indies in March.

In that same month, England lost a hard-fought series in India, going down 3-2 to Virat Kohli's side. Bairstow is one of a number of players back in the fold after heading home from the Indian Premier League earlier than originally scheduled once the tournament was halted due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hosts have an unblemished record at Sophia Gardens in T20 action too, winning all six games played there. This will be the first time they have hosted Sri Lanka at the venue.


Jonny be good! 

After isolating upon his return from India, Bairstow has been in outstanding form in the domestic T20 competition, the Vitality Blast.

The right-handed batsman has made 295 runs in four outings for Yorkshire, including hitting 112 against Worcestershire when needing a runner for half of his innings due to an injured ankle. Still, there is little need to move when you can hit boundaries – he has managed 26 fours and 18 sixes while scoring at a strike-rate of 175.59 runs per 100 deliveries while in action for his county in that competition.

Opportunity knocks

Chris Woakes is back for England, having not featured in a T20 at international level since November 2015. Like Willey, he will hope to make the most of any opportunity that comes his way in the series, which sees two games staged in the Welsh capital before concluding at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.

Sri Lanka, too, have some fresh faces: Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya Lakshan and Ishan Jayaratne have been included in a 24-man squad for both this series and the three one-dayers that follow. The tourists are without former captain Angelo Mathews, however.

Key series facts

- England lost their most recent men's T20I on home soil, against Australia in September 2020; however, the last time they lost two consecutive such matches at home was in August 2013.

- Since the beginning of 2020, Sri Lanka have the second lowest bowling dot-ball percentage (38.3 per cent) of any Test-playing country in the powerplay overs in men’s T20Is (Afghanistan 37.7 per cent).

- Sri Lanka have scored just 53.6 per cent of their runs from boundaries in powerplay overs in T20 games since the beginning of 2020, the lowest rate of any Test-playing country in that time.

- Morgan (201) needs just 13 runs to become the highest run-scorer in men's T20 clashes between England and Sri Lanka (Mahela Jayawardene – 213).

- Chris Jordan (12) needs just two wickets to become the highest wicket-taker in men's T20 games involving England and Sri Lanka (Lasith Malinga – 13).

Chris Woakes and David Willey have been named in England's squad for the Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka at the end of June.

A key component of the side that won the 50-over World Cup in 2019, Woakes has not featured in the shortest format at international level since November 2015.

Willey, meanwhile, will hope to get the chance to impress ahead of the T20 World Cup, which is scheduled to take place in October and November this year.

Liam Dawson is also included in a 16-man party that is minus the services of injured trio Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Reece Topley.

"With the T20 World Cup only a few months away, this summer is about perfecting our team and continue to progress on the field," England head coach Chris Silverwood said.

"We want to approach every series with an influx of players aiming to win every match and giving us the best preparation as we get closer to the tournament.

"With several high-profile players missing through injury, it allows me to look at some of our experienced players who have not featured at this level for some time.

"The likes of Chris Woakes and David Willey are very experienced cricketers, and to have them both in the mix is exciting and shows the depth of squad we have available.

"I want our team to play an attacking form of the game. I hope we can continue to excite the England fans with our approach."

The three-match series begins in Cardiff on June 23, with the second game also taking place at the same venue the following day. The Ageas Bowl will then host the finale on June 26.


England squad for T20 series against Sri Lanka:

Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonathan Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

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.

Zimbabwe registered a first win over Pakistan in Twenty20 cricket as the hosts came out on top in a low-scoring contest at the Harare Sports Club, levelling the three-match series at 1-1 in the process.

A 16th successive loss in games between the nations appeared on the cards when Zimbabwe laboured to 118-9 on a slow, used pitch.

Opener Tinashe Kamunhukamwe made 34 from 40 deliveries while Regis Chakabva added some much-needed impetus during his quick-fire 18, including hitting one of only two sixes in the innings.

However, Pakistan found the going tough in reply, even with captain Babar Azam making 41 at the top of the order.

The right-handed batsman hit five boundaries in a 45-ball knock that came to an end when he became the second of four wickets for Luke Jongwe, hitting a slower ball to Wesley Madhevere in the deep.

Pakistan were 78-3 at one stage but their final seven wickets went down for just 21 runs as they were bowled out for 99 in 19.5 overs.

Mohammad Rizwan (13) and Danish Aziz (22) were players to join Babar on double figures, with tail-end trio Usman Qadir, Haris Rauf and debutant Arshad Iqbal all dismissed in the final over without adding a run to the total.

Success at last for Zimbabwe

This was a long overdue victory for Zimbabwe, and not just because of their sorry run of results against Pakistan. They had not won a T20 contest at the ground in Harare since beating India there back in June 2016, losing seven on the spin since.

However, their impressive triumph on Friday sets up a winner-takes-all showdown in Sunday's finale, a game which precedes a two-Test series.

Dialling up impressive numbers

Jongwe's final figures of 4-18 are the best recorded by a Zimbabwe bowler in a T20 international fixture.

He celebrated each success by taking off one shoe and pretending to make a telephone call. It is fair to say Pakistan did not have his number, as a shocking collapse condemned them to just a third defeat in 10 outings in the format.

Mohammad Rizwan punished Zimbabwe for an early dropped catch as Pakistan claimed a hard-fought 11-run victory in the Twenty20 series opener on Wednesday.

Fresh from a 3-1 win in South Africa, Pakistan relied on Rizwan's unbeaten 82 to steer them to a competitive total of 149-7 after being put into bat at Harare Sports Club.

The wicketkeeper-batsman hit 10 fours and a solitary six in his outstanding 61-ball knock; the next highest score in the innings came from debutant Danish Aziz, who made 15 before becoming one of two wickets to fall to Luke Jongwe.

Zimbabwe did not help themselves with a number of missed opportunities in the field, including Tinashe Kamunhukamwe at mid-on failing to grasp an opportunity presented by Rizwan when he had just 13 to his name.

The home team still looked in a promising position in reply when they reached 77-2 in the 11th over, despite two early strikes from Pakistan pace bowler Mohammad Hasnain.

Kamunhukamwe had batted well to reach 29 but his departure, stumped having charged down the track to off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez, signalled a collapse. Craig Ervine fell in the next over for a top score of 34 as Zimbabwe slipped to 95-6.

Usman Qadir did much of the damage as he claimed 3-29 and, despite some late boundaries from Jongwe (30 not out from 23 balls), Zimbabwe  finished up on 138-7.

The second T20 takes place at the same venue on Friday, with the final game in the series scheduled for Sunday.

Rizwan in the runs again

Opener Rizwan registered his third half-century in five T20 games – his other two outings in that stretch saw him dismissed without scoring in the four-match series against the Proteas. Zimbabwe were left to rue their failure to dismiss him cheaply, particularly as he helped plunder 20 runs from the final over.

Zimbabwe left in a spin

Qadir – the son of legendary leg-spinner Abdul – sparked a middle-order collapse by Zimbabwe that shifted the game in Pakistan's favour. He has now taken 11 wickets at an average of 8.09 against them in four appearances in the shortest format, as well as owning a miserly economy rate of 5.93 runs per over.

Pakistan sealed a 3-1 triumph over South Africa in their Twenty20 series despite almost matching a wretched batting collapse by the hosts in the Centurion finale.

The Proteas slumped from 109-2 to 144 all out amid a display of artless batsmanship to set Pakistan just a modest victory target, yet the chasing side almost threw away the match with an implosion of their own.

Eventually they won by three wickets with one ball to spare, Fakhar Zaman smashing 60 from 34 balls and Mohammad Nawaz clinching victory with a six when just two runs were required.

Babar Azam's century had spurred Pakistan to a nine-wicket win in the third game of this four-match series, but where that contest, also at Centurion, was a run-fest, with both teams topping 200, this time South Africa were masters of their own downfall.

Aiden Markram came into the match behind three successive T20 fifties, attempting to be only the third player, after Brendon McCullum and Chris Gayle, to make four in a row.

He was the first batsman to be dismissed, however, lbw to Nawaz, and although Janneman Malan (33) and Rassie van der Dussen (52) then put on 57 for the second wicket, there was little other resistance to be found among the South Africa batsmen.

Faheem Ashraf tormented the top order for figures of 3-17 in four overs, while Hasan Ali rebounded well from being carted for 29 in his opening two overs, finishing with 3-40.

In Pakistan's reply, Fakhar came to the crease after Mohammad Rizwan slumped to a first-over stumping, and the left-hander soon set about the home attack, crunching five fours and four sixes before being caught as a wild swipe at Lizaad Williams sent the ball skywards.

His departure triggered the second heavy flurry of wickets in the match, Pakistan sliding from 92-1 to 129-7, needing someone to find some composure.

Nawaz was that man, first punishing Sisanda Magala for delivering two consecutive no-balls in the penultimate over, flogging his second free hit over the ropes. In a nervy final over, Nawaz (25 not out) picked off Williams from the fifth ball, pulling square over the boundary for the winning runs.

Chaos reigns

A contest littered with chaotic cricket was perhaps best summed up by the first delivery of the ninth over in Pakistan's reply. Tabraiz Shamsi's delivery was short, sat up and called for severe punishment. Even so, Fakhar looked sure to miss out on a boundary as George Linde moved to sweep up inside the boundary. Yet Linde inexplicably failed to get his body in the way of the ball. Really rather poor all round.

Hasan heroic

While Faheem and Haris Rauf (2-18) kept it supremely tight throughout their spells, the same could not be said for Hasan, who came in for some brutal early treatment. It takes sporting courage and skill to rebound from two horror overs, and he demonstrated such attributes by taking three wickets in his next two sets of six, including that of Magala from his final delivery.

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.

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