Pakistan captain Babar Azam produced a knock of the highest quality, smashing 122 from 59 deliveries as Pakistan hammered the Proteas by nine wickets in the third T20I in Centurion on Wednesday.
Chasing a fairly big total set by the Proteas, Azam produced one of the great T20I innings to take his side 2-1 up in the four-match series.
Azam won the toss at the start of play and didn’t hesitate to field first, hoping to restrict the Proteas to a defendable total.
The hosts were boosted by the return of Rassie van der Dussen, who successfully recovered from injury to replace Wihan Lubbe in the team.
READ: Van der Dussen returns as Proteas bat first in 3rd T20I
Aiden Markram and Janneman Malan made a positive start with the bat, racing to a brilliant 108-run stand with the former reaching a third T20I half-century in as many games. Markram, however, fell for 63 when he was bowled by the dangerous Mohammad Nawaz.
George Linde was promoted to No 3 in the order and struck a few big blows before he departed for 22 off only 11 deliveries, bowled by Faheem Ashraf.
Malan, though, kicked on with his good start to bring up his maiden half-century in the shorter format, but an attempted reverse sweep led to his departure – caught by Ashraf off Nawaz’s bowling for 55.
Pakistan began to fight back with the ball and reduced the Proteas run rate in the final few overs, adding Heinrich Klaasen (15) and Andile Phehlukwayo (11) to the wicket tally.
Van der Dussen managed to find the boundary on a couple of occasions towards the end to help the Proteas post 203-5 in their allotted 20 overs.
Pakistan openers Mohammad Rizwan and Azam, however, made light work of the required target, sending the Proteas bowlers to all corners of SuperSport Park.
Aided by some poor fielding and a few missed chances, the pair capitalised on any loose deliveries, converting their opportunities into massive scores.
But, it was Azam who took up the role of aggressor, racing to his maiden T20I century off only 49 deliveries. That put Pakistan in complete control of the required run rate.
Rizwan also reached another T20I half-century against the Proteas in the process, playing a pivotal role at the other end to help steer the visitors to an easy win in the end.
Fast bowler Lizaad Williams managed to make the breakthrough by finding the edge of Azam’s bat. It meant little, however, Fakhar Zaman hitting Pakistan to victory moments later with two overs to spare.
The fourth and final encounter will take place again at SuperSport Park on Friday.
Proteas: Janneman Malan, Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, Pite van Biljon, Heinrich Klaasen (c; wk), George Linde, Andile Phehlukwayo, Sisanda Magala, Beuran Hendricks, Lizaad Williams, Tabraiz Shamsi.
Pakistan: Muhammad Rizwan, Babar Azam (c), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Haider Ali, Asif Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf.