Babar smashes record-breaking 122 in Pakistan victory


Cricket - Third T20 International - England v Pakistan - Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - September 1, 2020 Pakistan's Babar Azam in action Mike Hewitt/Pool via REUTERS

PRETORIA (Reuters) - Captain Babar Azam hit a record-breaking 122 to lead Pakistan to an impressive nine-wicket victory over hosts South Africa at Centurion on Wednesday and a 2-1 lead in the four-match Twenty20 series.

Mohammad Rizwan scored an unbeaten 73 as he and Babar, whose century came off 49 balls, shared a record 197-run partnership in a devastating display of batting that enabled the touring side to reel in South Africa’s competitive 203-5 with consummate ease.

They won with two overs to spare after making 205-1, dispatching the home bowling to all corners of the ground.

Babar’s record T20 score for Pakistan, including 15 fours and four sixes off 59 balls, came a day after he became the top ranked one-day batsman. He is third in the T20 rankings and played an innings of finesse and guile rather than bludgeoning shots to underline his class.

Rizwan’s knock was overshadowed by his skipper but he was equally brilliant in a supporting role.

It was the second highest successful run chase in a T20 international at Centurion with a tiring Babar eventually out caught behind off the bowling of Lizaad Williams.

Janneman Malan and Aiden Markham shared a 108-run opening wicket partnership as South Africa got off to a flying start after being put into bat.

Markham made a half century for a third successive game before being bowled for 63 and Malan scored 55.

The last match of the series and Pakistan's tour will also be played at Centurion, on Friday.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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