David Miller gave a renowned exhibition of his power hitting game and Babar Azam responded with a batting master class of the highest quality as the Proteas and Pakistan produced another white ball special at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium on Sunday that will long be remembered.
Miller celebrated his captaincy debut by being named Man of the Match.
In the end the Proteas won the second T20 International by 7 runs to clinch the three-match series 2-0 with the final game to be played at SuperSport Park on Wednesday.
But the result almost paled into insignificance compared to the entertainment that was provided.
Miller smashed an unbeaten 65 off 29 balls with four fours and five sixes to set Pakistan a highly competitive target of 189. In the process he scored South Africa’s fastest T20 International half-century against these opponents.
Babar then proved himself equal to the challenge as he responded with 90 off 58 balls with 13 fours and one six. Apart from the fact that he was batting with a protective helmet he looked every bit the part of a modern day Sir Viv Richards as he played risk-free cricket for most of his innings.
With him at the crease Pakistan appeared to be cruising to victory, having scored 70/1 in the power play, and his dismissal with 42 runs required sparked a collapse that saw Pakistan lose 6 wickets for 33 runs and fall agonisingly short of their target.
They needed 15 off Andile Phehlukwayo’s final over but he defended it superbly and picked up two wickets into the bargain.
The Proteas had an unsung star and a new hero in 20-year-old debutant Lutho Sipamla who pulled the attack together after the initial Pakistan onslaught, bowling four one-over spells. In the end he conceded just 23 runs which was a match-winning effort in a high-scoring encounter.
He showed excellent control and a very cool head as he mixed up his pace and varieties and enabled his fielders to block the Pakistan scoring strokes – something that is not always easy at the Bidvest Wanderers.
The Proteas had a second debutant in Janneman Malan who could also be satisfied with his first effort (33 off 31 balls, 3 fours and 2 sixes).