Markram, Linde guide South Africa to a series-levelling win over Pakistan; Babar confident of a comeback

By our correspondent

KARACHI: Aiden Markaram hit his second fifty on the trot while George Linde and Lizaad Williams took three wickets each to guide South Africa to a six-wicket series-levelling win over Pakistan in their second T20 of the four-match series at Wanderers, Johannesburg, on Monday.

Markram hammered a 30-ball 54 to enable South Africa chase the 141-run target in 14 overs after losing four wickets in the process. Markram, who brought in his second successive fifty off 28 balls, smashed seven fours and three sixes in his fearless knock.

Skipper Heinrich Klaasen made a quick-fire unbeaten 21-ball 36, striking four fours and one six. George Linde in the end smashed a ten-ball 20 not out, striking two sixes. It was a poor display of bowling from Pakistan. Only leggie Usman Qadir showed some grace, taking 2-26 in three overs.

After opting to bat first Pakistan had a poor start when they lost Mohammad Rizwan (0) and Sharjeel Khan (8) early. Skipper Babar Azam (50) and Mohammad Hafeez (32) then tried to build the innings but failed to do so as Hafeez fell after adding 58 runs for the third wicket stand with his skipper.

Hafeez struck six fours in his 23-ball knock. Babar also failed to stretch his innings, falling for a run-a-ball 50, striking five fours. Linde (3-23) and Williams (3-35) ripped through Pakistan’s batting who failed to retaliate at any stage of their innings and were restricted to 140-9.

Pakistan skipper Babar Azam said that it was a bad day for them. “I am not that much disappointed. It was a bad for us. We lost two quick wickets in the start and could not catch momentum. In the middle we needed a partnership and me and Hafeez bhai managed a small one but could not stretch that and so we fell well before our main target which we had set for ourselves,” Babar said.

“South Africa also bowled well and that is why we could not set a good total,” Babar said. “Yes in bowling too we lacked. We should take wickets in the first six overs. If you don’t do that then the oppositions catch momentum which remains the same throughout the innings,” Babar said.

“We are trying different combinations in bowling which is part of the preparations for the World Cup. We have two games to play here before facing Zimbabwe in three T20s so we will try to use different combinations and in the end we will reach to a conclusion which is the best one,” Babar said.

“Our middle order is also struggling. We have Hafeez and we also tried Haider Ali at No5 and it is not easy to adjust and it takes a player a few matches and hopefully they will get time in the middle and score for the country,” Babar said.

He said they would field in the third game in a different mindset. “I am positive and we will field in a different mindset in the third game and will try to carry the same momentum in which we were in the series throughout,” Babar said.

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