There are match-winning centuries and there are Match-winning Centuries. You will travel far and wide, maybe even go back in time, but you will struggle to find a more remarkable game-stealing hundred than the one the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi saw tonight. An outrageous 72-ball 109 from Abdul Razzaq dragged Pakistan to a series-levelling target of 287 against South Africa, one ball and one wicket left.
It was scarcely-scriptable and only when Razzaq hit his tenth six in the last over, slogging Albie Morkel over midwicket to climax an unimaginable orgy of power-hitting, was a Pakistan win even worth contemplating; until then he had played to a backdrop of impending, imminent doom. To even get to that point needing 14 was a feat because for 99 overs Pakistan looked a distant second best; a solid, now-to-be-forgotten century from Colin Ingram, hands from Hashim Amla and JP Duminy and the continuing refusal of Pakistan’s top order to turn up, the distinct story till then.
Shahid Afridi and Fawad Alam had tried gamely to make something of the disaster of 70 for 4 in the 19th over. The spinners were on, Afridi was around so inevitably some fun was had. When Afridi went in the 30th, the score at 136, still the best they could hope for was an honourable scrap.
Razzaq began quietly, expressive as a stone, and even a dance-down six off Robin Peterson four overs after Afridi left felt decorative. Alam, meanwhile, was getting bogged down by his own inability to clear a field. But South Africa relaxed, the pair stuck at it. Alam suddenly got going and Razzaq smoked a couple more sixes. By the 40th over, at 200 for 5, theoretically it looked possible – in this age of Twenty20 at least – even if, in reality, it didn’t feel gettable.
But for once, Pakistan timed their Powerplay right and when Johan Botha was taken for 11 in the very first, a little tension crept in. Only a little though, for Alam went soon, Morne Morkel bowled two fine overs, there was the inevitable run-out and even though Razzaq had reached his fifty, it was done and dusted.
The 47th over, bowled poorly by Charles Langeveldt, was pivotal. Razzaq launched a sequence of length balls for three sixes in his favourite areas – flat-batted over extra cover, high over long-on and down the ground. Eighteen runs but no expression. Wahab Riaz’s run-out off the last ball was merely collateral damage as 53 from 24 became 33 from 18.
Razzaq had decided at the fall of Alam that if the match was to be won, it would be by him alone, so with the tail in, several singles were turned down. With 25 needed from 12, Langeveldt was lofted down the ground and then pulled with cartoonish violence to midwicket. By the time Razzaq had taken the 14 needed off the last over he had scored 63 of the last 65, effectively from the 45th over onwards. Six sixes came in the last four overs, and only at the very end, after crashing a drive through point, did he let his emotions out, dropping his bat and trying to run but not knowing where to go.(cricinfo)