Temba Bavuma juggled a bit before taking Babar Azam's catch. (Photo by Christiaan Kotze / AFP)

Temba Bavuma juggled a bit before taking Babar Azam’s catch. (Photo by Christiaan Kotze / AFP)

  • Proteas skipper Temba Bavuma said he never panicked that Fakhar Zaman could clinch an unlikely victory for Pakistan in Sunday’s 2nd ODI.
  • He hailed Fakhar’s innings as “incredible” and believes his attack couldn’t do much to stop his stunning assault.
  • But Bavuma did point out that SA should work on improving their execution and realise that a game is never over until it’s over.

Temba Bavuma wasn’t too worried that Fakhar Zaman would snatch an unlikely Pakistan victory from the Proteas’ grasp in the second ODI at the Wanderers on Sunday despite playing an “incredible innings”.

The left-handed opener struck a dazzling 193 off just 155 deliveries, an effort that included 10 sixes and single-handedly kept the visitors in the hunt after being tasked with chasing 342.

His showstopping display comfortably eclipsed Herschelle Gibbs’ 175 as the highest individual score at the ground and is the second highest ever against South Africa in all ODIs.

Fakhar’s brilliance

Highest individual scores at the Wanderers:

193 – Fakhar Zaman, Pakistan v South Africa (2021)

175 – Herschelle Gibbs, South Africa v Australia (2006)

164 – Ricky Ponting, Australia v South Africa (2006)

153* – Hashim Amla, South Africa v West Indies (2015)

152* – Chris Gayle, West Indies v South Africa (2004)

Highest individual scores against SA in ODIs:

200* – Sachin Tendulkar, India (2010)

193 – Fakhar Zaman, Pakistan (2021)

180* – Martin Guptill, New Zealand (2017)

173 – David Warner, Australia (2016)

169 – Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lanka (2013)

“It’s definitely the best innings I’ve witnessed in a game I’ve played in,” the Proteas skipper, who himself enjoyed a fruitful outing with a fluent 92, said afterwards.

“But it was always going to be a tough task for him to chase over 340 on his own. If a batter bats well, he bats well. Players are allowed to do that.

“There’s definitely a conversation that can and will be had about keeping Fakhar quiet for the rest of the series.”

As compelling as Fakhar’s assault was, there was a distinct feeling among observers that the South African attack – bar the steadiness of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje’s fiery opening spell – lost much of their intensity when it seemed Pakistan were wilting and allowed proceedings to drift … badly.

READ | Proteas survive stunning Fakhar assault to win in pink again

Yet Bavuma believed that was more down to execution than attitude.

“I think we always knew that we weren’t too far off in terms of winning the game. For me, speaking to the bowlers, it was just a matter of trying to be clear in terms of what we’re trying to do,” he said.

“Then it simply becomes a matter of execution and that’s something that we can work on. From a fielding point of view, it was really just about making sure that we take whatever opportunities are present to us. 

“We saw, for example, Aiden (Markram’s) run out of Fakhar at the end. Also, one has to point out again that it was an incredible innings. There wasn’t much we could’ve done at the time, except to stay calm and clear.”

Fakhar, who already boasts a ODI double century made against Zimbabwe in 2018, was humility personified in talking about his feat.

“I tried my level best,” he said.

“That’s my game. The wicket was really good, the boundaries were very short and the run rate was going up. I was just hitting the ball.”

That “hitting” did much to contribute to the seesawing start to Bavuma’s captaincy tenure, who on Friday had a similarly frantic match situation to deal with at SuperSport Park.

The diminutive stroke-maker, however, is taking it in his stride.

“I try to be calm, even when things are happening the way they are with a batter playing like that. Things can get away from you in a situation like that,” said Bavuma.

“It’s important to take a step back and just get a grip on what’s happening at that moment. My first two games (as captain) have both gone down to the wire and it’s been an incredible experience.

“I would’ve liked us to finish more clinically today, but it’s a learning curve. We realised that a game is never over.”

The deciding match of the three-match ODI series takes place on Wednesday in Centurion.

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