South Africa draw first blood in Dubai

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South Africa beat Pakistan by a resounding nine wickets in the opening T20 international in Dubai to take a 1-0 series lead.

South Africa beat Pakistan by a resounding nine wickets in the opening T20 international in Dubai to take a 1-0 series lead.

Having won the toss, the Proteas sent the opposition in to bat and it would prove a good decision as Pakistan slumped to just 98/9 off their 20 overs.

Dale Steyn was making a rare appearance for South Africa in the format with an eye towards making the side for the World Twenty20 next year, and did his reputation no harm at all after returning with figures of 3 for 15.

Lonwabo Tsotsobe provided the opening breakthrough in the first over of the match as Ahmed Shehzad flashed at one outside off stump to provide Hashim Amla with a sharp catch at first slip.

Steyn got into the action in the very next over, dismissing both Sohaib Maqsood and Mohammad Hafeez caught behind in the space of three balls, as Pakistan found themselves 4 for 3 and teetering on the brink of a total collapse.

Shahid Afridi was promoted to No 3 to accelerate the scoring, but he was dismissed for just 10 off 13 balls as Tsotsobe picked up his second.

Shoaib Malik didn't last very long either, with Imran Tahir getting into the wickets column courtesy of a stumping off a ball that would certainly have been called a wide had the batsman stayed in his crease.

That brought Umar Akmal to the middle and his innings would ultimately save Pakistan from total capitulation, with the right-hander staying at the crease as wickets continued to tumble, eventually compiling a valuable 49 off 41 deliveries before being run out on the second-to-last ball.

Still, with only 98 runs to defend, Pakistan were always going to be up against it, and South Africa would chase down the total comfortably and clinically to take a series lead.

There might have been some hope of a Pakistani fight back when Hashim Amla was bowled by Sohail Tanvir in the third over with the score at 16 for 1, but captain Faf du Plessis joined inexperienced young opener Quinton de Kock at the crease and the duo were not about to let their side's advantage slip.

Taking their time at first and treating Saeed Ajmal in particular with total respect, Du Plessis and De Kock were free to avoid taking any serious risks – though as the Pakistan total got nearer, both men started hitting some powerful blows.

By the 15th over it was all over, with De Kock finishing with 48 not out off 52 balls and Du Plessis managing 37 off 40 as the Proteas sealed a thumping nine-wicket victory with 33 balls to spare.

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