Quality spin bowling once again proved to be South Africa’s downfall in the first T20 against Pakistan in Lahore on Thursday night as the Proteas fell three runs short of their target of 170.
That was in the main due to a thrilling spell of leg-spin trickery from Usman Qadir, son of the great Abdul, who took two for 21 in his four overs.
He was well supported by left-armer Mohammad Nawaz, who also conceded just 21 runs in his four-over quota.
And with Khushdil Shah’s single over costing six runs, it meant the spinners bowled nine overs for just 48 runs in the South African innings.
Qadir came into the attack after the Proteas had made a great start in the powerplay, reaching 51 without loss in the first six overs, mostly due to Janneman Malan’s pugnacious 44 off 29 balls.
Malan’s opening partner Reeza Hendricks served as the anchor of the innings, as he fought his way to 54 off 42 deliveries, which was a welcome return to form since the Lions batsman had scored only 62 runs in his previous seven innings.
But the seam bowlers returned and took care of David Miller (6), Heinrich Klaasen (12) and Andile Phehlukwayo (14), and Hendricks was run out in the 18th over.
Dwaine Pretorius (15* off 6) and Bjorn Fortuin (17* off 9) added an unbeaten 27 but were left needing six off the last ball to win, with Fortuin only able to dig a fine delivery in the blockhole from Faheem Ashraf to the square-leg boundary for two.
South Africa had earlier been brutalised again by the bat of Mohammad Rizwan, who followed up his superb century in the final Test by stroking a superbly-paced 104 not out off just 64 balls, becoming only the second wicketkeeper after New Zealand great Brendon McCullum to score a hundred in all three formats.
Having been sent in to bat by the Proteas, Pakistan posted 169 for six.
Wrist-spinner Shamsi was the pick of the South African bowlers with one for 20 in his four overs.