A crafty century from captain Babar Azam and a solid half-century from opener Imam-ul-Haq was enough for Pakistan in securing a three-wicket win in the first ODI against South Africa at the Centurion on Friday.
Chasing a tricky target of 274 to go 1-0 up in the three-match series, the visitors were off to a poor start as opener Fakhar Zaman went back to the pavilion after being bowled on the bowling of Kagiso Rabada.
Babar and Imam put on a match-winning partnership 177 runs for the second wicket off just 181 balls to put Pakistan in complete control of the match.
However, with the captain’s departure, the Men-in-Green suffered a mini collapse as they lost four wickets for just in the space of just 17 runs 37 balls.
However, vice-captain Shadab Khan and in-form wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan put on a solid 53-run partnership to take the team closer to the victory.
Rizwan departed after scoring 40 off 52 balls with the help of three fours.
The Men in Green kept making things difficult with reckless shots and dot balls.
However, Faheem Ashraf, after playing three dot balls in the final over, hit a boundary on the last ball of the match to secure the win.
Babar finished the Pakistan innings with the top score of 103 off 104 balls with the help of 17 fours whereas Imam scored 70 off 80 balls with the help of three fours and a six.
For South Africa, pacer Anrich Nortje was the most successful bowler on the day as he registered figures of 4-51 in his quota of 10 overs.
For his outstanding batting performance, captain Babar was named the player-of-the-match.
Earlier, Rassie van der Dussen’s maiden century in international cricket helped the Proteas in registering a competitive total of 273 for the loss of six wickets in their allotted 50 overs.
After being put to bat first by the visitors’ captain, the home team were in trouble early one as they lost the first four wickets for just 55 runs inside the first 15 overs.
However, from there on, it was all Van der Dussen’s show who played a brilliant knock and scored 123 not out off just 134 balls which included 10 fours and two sixes.
He was well-supported by veteran middle-order batsman David Miller who scored 50 off 56 balls with the help of five fours. The duo also added 116 runs for the fifth-wicket partnership off just 135 balls.
For Pakistan, pacers Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf were the pick of the bowlers as they claimed two wickets each.