Babar, Rizwan star as Pakistan bulldozed England in a record chase

By our correspondent

KARACHI: Skipper Babar Azam (110*) and Mohammad Rizwan (88*) shared a record opening stand to enable Pakistan to demolish England by ten wickets in their second game to level the seven-match T20 series 1-1 here at the jam-packed National Stadium on Thursday.

This is also the biggest ten-wicket victory of the world cricket in T20.

The duo did a tremendous job to help Pakistan chase the 200-run target with three balls to spare without losing any wicket. This was also the third highest chase from Pakistan in T20 cricket following their 208-run successful chase against the West Indies here at the same venue on December 16, 2021, and a 204-run fine chase against South Africa in Centurian in April, 2021.

Earlier, Moeen Ali (55*) and Ben Duckett (43) batted rapidly to guide England to 199-5 in the allotted 20 overs.

Set to chase a tough target at a stage when Pakistan were under-fire for their below-par showing by their middle order, the amazing opening pair of Babar and Rizwan again proved that they are the two precious players who could do anything in T20 cricket. The duo also broke their previous record of 197 runs for the opening stand which they had scored against South Africa in Centurian on April 14, 2021, by scoring 203 without separating to inflict a huge defeat on England, the second ten-wicket victory by Pakistan in T20 cricket after they had beaten India also by ten wickets in Dubai on October 24, 2021. This was also the fifth biggest first wicket partnership in the world. And this was also the seventh time that the pair of Babar and Rizwan shared a century partnership.

Rizwan was lucky, having survived thrice, Babar was simply fantastic. Babar took a single off the bowling of Sam Curran to complete his second T20 century off 62 balls. He also became the first Pakistani batsman to score two centuries in T20 cricket. Babar, whose fifty came off 39 balls, timed the ball well and hammered five sixes and 11 fours in his 66-ball unbeaten knock. Before this inning Babar’s highest was 31 in his previous seven knocks and it showed that he found his form in style.

Rizwan, who also played a valiant knock, brought in his third successive fifty off 30 balls. He smashed four sixes and five fours in his 51-ball 88 not out.

David Willey was the most expensive bowler as he conceded 44 runs in 3.3 overs. Luke Wood, the previous game hero, leaked 49 runs in his quota of four overs.

Babar Azam was adjudged as man of the match for his excellent knock.

Following a breezy start after England opted to bat first Shahnawaz Dahani provided back-to-back breakthroughs to the hosts when he picked up the wickets of Alex Hales (26) and Dawid Malan (0) off his two successive deliveries to put pressure on the visitors.

He bowled Hales with a delivery that pitched at the area, slightly came in and the right-hander went for a big shot, missed it before it crashed his stumps.

Hales smacked three fours and one six from 21 balls. The left-handed Malan was bowled round his legs for a golden duck. And England were 42-2 in the sixth over. Ben Duckett then joined Phil Salt and the duo added 53 runs off 37 balls for the third wicket stand before Haris Rauf bowled Salt to leave England at 95-3 in the 12th over. Salt, who struggled a bit in the start, struck one six and one four in his 27-ball 30.

Duckett, who survived a hat-trick ball from Dahani earlier on, showed great resolve. He was simply superb, scoring a 22-ball 43, striking seven fours. He diligently improvised and found gaps which helped England before being bowled by Mohammad Nawaz to leave the visitors at 101-4 in the 13th over.

At this stage Harry Brook and skipper Moeen Ali batted well and added a brisk 59 off 27 balls for the fifth wicket association. Haris Rauf broke the stand when he clean bowled Harry, who wanted it to hit over the keeper but failed to connect.

Harry struck three sixes and one four in his explosive 19-ball 31. Moeen Ali, dropped by Khushdil in the 18th over off Dahani, then pressed the pedal, scoring his sixth fifty of his career. He hammered Mohammad Hasnain for two successive sixes off the last two balls of the innings to bring in his fifty for which he consumed 23 balls. He smashed three towering sixes and the same number of fours in his captain’s knock.

He dominated the 39-run sixth wicket stand with Sam Curran who returned unbeaten for an eight-ball ten which carried one four.

England were 48-0 in the powerplay. They reached 80-2 in ten overs and were 133-4 in 15 overs. In the last five overs England scored 66 runs.

Haris Rauf (2-30) checked the batsmen well. Dahani, who removed Alex and Malan off his two consecutive balls, finished with 2-37 in his quota of four overs which was also his best bowling in T20 cricket. Mohammad Hasnain was the most expensive bowler as he conceded 51 runs in four overs. He was also hit for five sixes during his poor bowling stint. He conceded 18 runs in the 16th over, smacked by Harry Brook for a six and a four and was also smacked for a four by Moeen Ali in the same over. He also conceded 19 runs in the last over which also saw two huge sixes from Moeen Ali.

Mohammad Nawaz got 1-40 while Usman Qadir conceded 41 runs in his quota of four overs. The leg-spinner was also hit for two sixes and one four by Moeen Ali in the 15th over of the innings which yielded 19 runs.

Earlier Pakistan made one change by bringing in Mohammad Hasnain in place of Naseem Shah. England also made one change replacing Richard Gleeson with Liam Dawson.

Ahsan Raza and Rashid Riaz supervised the match while Asif Yaqoob was the television umpire. Faisal Afridi was reserve umpire and Mohammad Javed served as match referee.

The third game between the two nations will be held on Friday (today) at the same venue.

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