Pakistan captain Babar Azam’s commanding century overshadowed Rassie van der Dussen’s maiden career hundred as Pakistan beat South Africa by three wickets in the opening One-Day International at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Friday. Babar’s 103-run knock helped Pakistan stage a thrilling last-ball win and jump to the fourth spot from the eighth in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League. There was also an impressive career-best four for 51 from Anrich Nortje that threatened to snatch victory away from the tourists, but it was not to be after Mohammad Rizwan – 40 – and Shadab Khan – 33 – did just about enough after a wobble.Also Read - WATCH | Babar Azam's EPIC Reply to 'You Broke Another Virat Kohli Record' Goes VIRAL
The match was sealed on the last ball as Faheem Ashraf stroked Andile Phehlukwayo for a single through covers. The result put Pakistan 1-0 up in the three-match series, with match two of the contest — the Pink ODI — next up on Sunday. Also Read - Babar Azam, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Rizwan, Shaheen Shah Afridi Receives Red, White-Ball Contracts From PCB
Pakistan looked on course to a comfortable win despite a middle-order collapse before Mohammad Rizwan’s dismissal with still 18 runs remaining from 2.4 overs. The equation eventually came down to three required off the last over but Shadab Khan’s wicket on the first ball – after he had scored a gutsy 30-ball 33. Also Read - Temba Bavuma Ruled Out Of SA's Entire Tour Of England; David Miller, Keshav Maharaj Named Stand-In Skippers
With the equation down to three off six balls, three consecutive dot balls amplified pressure on the tourists. Faheem, who finished not out on five off 10, chipped Phehlukwayo down the ground for a couple on the penultimate delivery before stealing the winning run on the last ball.
But the South Africans will be disappointed not to have done better, having had a few opportunities to do so especially after Van der Dussen’s excellent unbeaten 123 off 134 balls – 10 fours, 2 sixes – and 50 off 56 balls – from David Miller.
The pair put on 116 for the fifth wicket, rescuing their team from being four down for 55 after Pakistan won the toss and opted to bowl.
Quinton de Kock (20) and Aiden Markram (19) both had starts but then fell along with Temba Bavuma (1), making his captaincy debut, and Heinrich Klaasen (1) leaving the home side in big early trouble.
But the Van der Dussen-Miller stand, followed by another 64 runs between the former and Andile Phehlukwayo (29) put the Proteas in the box seat.
Van der Dussen beat his previous high score of 95 scored against Australia at the 2019 World Cup in Manchester for his first ton in any format for his country, while Miller notched up his 15th career half-century.
But there wasn’t enough big hitting at the end to lift the South Africans to a more threatening total as they had to settle for a target of 274.
Pakistan lost Fakhar Zaman (8) early in the chase, but an imposing 177-run second wicket partnership between skipper Babar and Imam-ul-Haq (70 off 80 balls, 3 fours, 1 six) left their side cruising towards a seemingly routine win.
But Nortje removed both as well as Danish Aziz (3) and Asif Ali (2) during a fiery second spell that saw the away side slump from 186 for one to 203 for 5.
But Rizwan and Shadab added 53 for the next wicket to again leave the Pakistanis cruising.
Both then fell to Phehlukwayo (2/56), again threatening a twist. There was also some indiscipline in the field by the hosts that could have swayed things in a game of fine margins, with the tourists finally getting over the line with the final ball of the game.
Brief scores: South Africa 273/6 in 50 overs (R van der Dussen 123 not out, D Miller 50, S Afridi 2/61) lost to Pakistan 274/7 in 50 overs (B Azam 103, I Haq 70, M Rizwan 40, S Khan 33, A Nortje 4/51)