Mohammad Hafeez put a poor Test series behind him when he led Pakistan to a crushing 95-run win in the second and final Twenty20 international against South Africa at SuperSport Park on Sunday.
Hafeez hammered 86 and took three wickets for 25 runs, while fast bowler Umar Gul took 5-6 as South Africa collapsed to 100 all out in reply to Pakistan’s 195-7 in what was a series decider after the first match in Durban was washed out.
Appointed Pakistan’s captain in the shortest form of the game, Hafeez thrashed four sixes and nine fours off 50 balls.
His innings was in dramatic contrast to his struggles in a three-match Test series which ended last week in which he scored 43 runs in six innings at an average of 7.16.
“I knew I was playing well in the nets, but just getting good balls in the Tests,” he said. “It was disappointing, but the coach [Dav Whatmore] has been working hard with me in the nets.”
Hafeez said he felt criticism of the team after they were beaten 3-0 in the Test series had been premature.
“As a team we knew it was a different format and we have to come out with some good performances. The boys showed a great deal of character and wanted to do something special with the one-day internationals coming up,” he said.
South Africa and Pakistan meet in five one-day internationals, starting in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
A second-wicket partnership of 83 off 48 balls with Ahmed Shehzad (46) set Pakistan on the way, but the innings lost momentum when Hafeez was out with the total on 170 in the 17th over. Hafeez slipped as he went back in his crease to hit Rory Kleinveldt to the cover boundary, dislodging his bails in the process.
The hosts got off to a flying start, with opener A.B. de Villiers batting audaciously as the home side reached 48-1 in four overs.
Gul then took four wickets in six balls, spread across two overs, as the match swung in Pakistan’s favor.
In between De Villiers was bowled by Mohammad Irfan for 36, made off 22 balls.
“The shorter the version of the game, the more one individual can come through and win it,” South Africa captain Faf du Plessis said. “Hafeez was fantastic and put out bowlers under pressure. Umar Gul was a case of us trying to win the game by going hard to get the run rate up.”