Opener Mohammad Rizwan smashed an unbeaten half-century to lead Pakistan to a nail-biting four-wicket victory over inexperienced South Africa in the first Twenty20 International at The Wanderers on Saturday.
South Africa, who were without seven of their leading players, either injured or released to compete in the Indian Premier League, won the toss and elected to bat, posting 188 for six in their 20 overs on an excellent wicket.
Rizwan scored 74 from 50 balls in Pakistan’s reply as the visitors profited from the depleted home bowling attack and reached their target with one ball remaining.
It is their highest successful run chase in T20 cricket, beating the 187 they managed in a win over Australia in 2018.
The industrious Rizwan was helped over the line by Faheem Ashraf (30 from 14 balls) as the pair added 48 in 24 balls for the sixth wicket, turning the match firmly in the visitors’ favour.
South Africa’s total was boosted by half-centuries for opener Aiden Markram (51 from 32 balls) and stand-in captain Heinrich Klaasen (50 from 28 balls), but at one stage they looked as though they would cruise past 200.
Left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz (2-21) and seamer Hasan Ali (2-28) ensured they did not with eight excellent overs between them.
The home side handed debuts to batsman Wihan Lubbe, all-rounder Sisanda Magala and seamer Lizaad Williams.
The second match in the four-game series will be played at the same venue on Monday.