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Cricket news - Du Plessis, Hendricks star as hosts take 1-0 lead

Du Plessis and Hendricks put on 131 runs for the second-wicket partnership.

In only the fifth over of South Africa's innings, Faf du Plessis set himself up to play a lap shot but a full delivery by Hasan Ali ended up yorking him. He did manage to scamper for a single but it made for a hilarious sight, maybe embarrassing for the South African too. But he wasn't going to give up so easily on that.

Couple of overs later, he tried it again off Faheem Ashraf, only to find it bowled wide outside off and have it improvised. The result this time, however, was a six over the third man region. He tried that again and missed it completely. While he was struggling to execute the lap shots as he would have intended, it was putting Pakistan's plans off. Taking advantage of that, he essayed as fine an exhibition of T20 batting as you can ask for. There was power, innovation and timing that left little to complain.

Earlier in the day, Pakistan won the toss and elected to field at Newlands - a venue where South Africa haven't enjoyed a lot of success in T20Is. Both the teams came into the contest with a key player unavailable. While Mohammad Hafeez was ruled out due to a hamstring niggle, Quinton de Kock had to miss out due to a groin injury.

South Africa had started their innings on fifth gear, damning Pakistan's ploy of employing spinners from both ends. Reeza Hendricks and Gihahn Cloete stroked a boundary in each of the first three overs before the latter fell playing a drive on the up to Fakhar Zaman at cover point.

However, du Plessis ensured that the wicket didn't deter the hosts for keeping their foot on the accelerator. 48 runs on the powerplay wouldn't have done justice to the aggressive approach they had adopted but it did set a strong platform for them.

Pakistan employed seven bowlers, and no one apart from Imad Wasim conceded anything less than 7.75 an over. Faheem Ashraf was carted all over the ground as the leggie conceded 36 from three overs. His all-round partner Faheem Ashraf was only marginally better as he leaked two less in three overs.

Du Plessis brought up his half-century in only 29 balls. Hendricks, who played the second fiddle during the course of their record stand of 131 - highest for the second wicket for South Africa in T20Is - too reached 50 off only 31 balls. But while the skipper raced to the landmark with consecutive swipes through the cow corner for a six and a boundary, Hendricks got it with a nudge for a single.

Having crossed the 150-run mark in the 15th over, South Africa aimed to reach 220. However, Usman Shinwari's double strike in the 16th over put paid to their hopes. Having tried quite a plans unsuccessfully, Pakistan realised that the well-set duo were struggling to time the back of the length slower balls. Shinwari used that to good effect to claim three wickets in two overs, including the two set batsmen.

While du Plessis hit one straight to the fielder at mid off, van der Dussen and Hendricks were scalped courtesy some fine catching. Van der Dussen was caught behind while Shadab Khan came running in from long on to take a superb forward diving catch and dismiss the half-centurion.

The in-coming batsmen couldn't get the big shots going as easily, and in the process, lost their wickets. A flurry of wickets continued as South Africa were eventually restricted to 192 for 6.

The fact that the target wasn't going to be as imposing as it seemed became apparent in the powerplay itself as Babar Azam and Hussain Talat's quickfire half-century stand put Pakistan on course, even as they had lost Fakhar Zaman in the first over itself.

South Africa's pacers were proving easy to put away on a pitch where the ball was coming easily on to the bat, and that allowed the visitors to race to 58 in the first six overs.

However, once South Africa brought down the pace on the ball, the scoring rate took a massive beating. In the first three overs bowled by Andile Phehlukwayo and Tabraiz Shamsi, only 19 runs were conceded. More importantly, both the batsmen were becoming desperate to play the big shots. The desperation eventually proved costly. In a bid to go for a big shot, Talat eventually holed out to Beuran Hendricks in the deep.

That became a pattern of Pakistan's innings thereafter and the reason for their collapse that followed. Asif Ali, Imad Wasim and Hasan Ali fell in a similar fashion, all caught by David Miller in the deep. However, when their batsmen weren't throwing their wickets away, Miller's sensational work in the field proved to be their undoing. He pulled off two stunning run outs to send back a set Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizman.

Amidst the collapse, remained one constant - Shoaib Malik. With the run rate creeping and partners falling to slogs, the skipper maintained a calm head and played sensible cricket to bring Pakistan close to the total. Without having to take as many risks, he scored at a brisk pace.

However, much like the rest of the batsmen, Miller had a role to play even in Malik's dismissal when Pakistan needed 14 runs off the last four balls. Fielding does make a difference in T20Is but rarely would there have been an instance of an individual fielder having such a massive part to play in his team's victory. Miller, who took four catches and effected two superb run outs, eventually proved to be the difference between the two sides as South Africa won by six runs to go 1-up in the three-match series.

Brief Scores: South Africa 192/6 in 20 overs (Faf du Plessis 78, Reeza Hendricks 74; Usman Shinwari 3-31, Imad Wasim 1-23) beat Pakistan 186/9 in 20 overs (Shoaib Malik 49, Hussain Talat 40; Tabraiz Shamsi 2-33, Chris Morris 2-39) by 6 runs.

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