Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik lead perfect Pakistan into semi-final against Australia

Published November 8, 2021
SHARJAH: Veteran Pakistan batter Shoaib Malik hits out during his whirlwind innings against Scotland at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Sunday.— AP
SHARJAH: Veteran Pakistan batter Shoaib Malik hits out during his whirlwind innings against Scotland at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Sunday.— AP

SHARJAH: Pakistan captain Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik cracked blistering half-centuries as the former World Twenty20 champions eased past Scotland by 72 runs on Sunday to seal top spot in Group II and set up a semi-final meeting with Australia.

Babar opted to bat first after winning the toss and led from the front with a 47-ball 66 that contained five boundaries and three sixes before Malik put the Scots to the sword with 54 not out off just 18 balls — Pakistan’s fastest fifty in a T20 game — dotted by six hits over the ropes.

Mohammad Hafeez also joined the party with a 19-ball 31 to help them reach a commanding 189-4 in their 20 overs, with 114 coming off the final eight.

Scotland were never in hunt as they managed 117-6 with Richie Berrington fighting a lone hand during his 37-ball 54 not out with four boundaries and a six.

The victory gave the 2009 champions five wins in as many games, topping the group with ten points. They now face Australia in the second semi-final in Dubai on Thursday. England will face New Zealand in the first semi-final in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

“Shoaib, the way he finished, the way he showed his experience, that’s what he’s known for,” said Babar of his 39-year-old team-mate.

“We’ll carry good confidence into the semi-finals and try to play in the same way. Definitely Dubai is one of the best stadiums. As a player if you play in front of a whole crowd that cheers for you, your confidence increases.”

Scotland lost skipper Kyle Coetzer (nine), Matthew Cross (five) and George Munsey (17) before they crossed fifty and it was left to Berrington and Micheal Leask (14) to add 46 for the fifth wicket.

Berrington brought up his half-century in the 18th over off Hasan Ali, smashing the paceman for a huge six along the way, but his gutsy innings went in vain as spinner Shadab Khan (2-14) kept up the pressure. Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf and Hasan Ali claimed a wicket each.

“I thought we bowled really well today, especially in the powerplay,” said Coetzer whose team lost all five Super 12 games but defeated Bangladesh in the qualifying round.

“When you’ve got the power in the batting line-up like Pakistan you know that they are going to find the boundaries at some stage, but I thought our guys fought really hard today.”

Earlier, Babar had set the platform with another fine knock.

Malik’s brutal onslaught saw the most experienced T20 player in the world punish the Scottish attack, taking 26 off Chris Greaves’s last over.

Babar continued his supreme batting form, becoming the tournament’s highest run-scorer, passing England’s Jos Buttler’s 240 in five matches with 264 in as many games.

He holed out to spinner Greaves in the 18th over as Pakistan lifted the scoring rate, adding 129 in the last ten overs and an incredible 77 in the final five.

Babar and Mohammad Rizwan (15) had put on a slow 35 for the opening stand.

Rizwan, when on five, broke West Indian Chris Gayle’s record for most runs in Twenty20 cricket in a calendar year. Rizwan now has 1,676 runs in 41 matches. Gayle had notched 1,665 in 36 matches in 2015.

Current Group II standings

(Tabulated under played, won, lost, no result, points, net run rate):

Pakistan (Q) 5 5 0 0 10 1.583

New Zealand (Q) 5 4 1 0 8 1.162

India 4 2 2 0 4 1.619

Afghanistan 5 2 3 0 4 1.053

Namibia 4 1 3 0 2 -1.851

Scotland 5 0 5 0 0 -3.543

Note: Top two sides qualify for the semi-finals.

PAKISTAN captain Babar Azam plays a shot against Scotland on Sunday.—AFP
PAKISTAN captain Babar Azam plays a shot against Scotland on Sunday.—AFP

Scoreboard

PAKISTAN:

Mohammad Rizwan c Cross b Tahir 15

Babar Azam c Munsey b Greaves 66

Fakhar Zaman c Leask b Greaves 8

Mohammad Hafeez lbw b Sharif 31

Shoaib Malik not out 54

Asif Ali not out 5

EXTRAS (LB-3, W-7) 10

TOTAL (for four wkts, 20 overs) 189

DID NOT BAT: Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Shah Afridi

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-35 (Rizwan), 2-59 (Zaman), 3-112 (Hafeez), 4-142 (Babar)

BOWLING: Tahir 4-0-24-1; Wheal 2-0-20-0; Sharif 4-0-41-1; Watt 4-0-41-0 (4w); Berrington 2-0-17-0 (2w); Greaves 4-0-43-2 (1w)

SCOTLAND:

G. Munsey c Haris b Shadab 17

K. Coetzer b Hasan 9

M. Cross run out 5

R. Berrington not out 54

D. Budge b Shadab 0

M. Leask b Shaheen 14

C. Greaves b Haris 4

M. Watt not out 2

EXTRAS (B-1, LB-1, NB-3, W-7) 12

TOTAL (for six wkts, 20 overs) 117

DID NOT BAT: Safyaan Sharif, B.Wheal, Hamza Tahir

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-23 (Coetzer), 2-36, (Cross), 3-41 (Munsey), 4-41 (Budge), 5-87 (Leask), 6-114 (Greaves)

BOWLING: Shaheen 4-0-24-1 (2nb, 3w); Imad 4-0-17-0 (2w); Haris 4-0-27-1 (1w); Hasan 4-1-33-1 (1nb, 1w); Shadab 4-0-14-2 RESULT: Pakistan won by 72 runs.

MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Shoaib Malik

UMPIRES: Paul Wilson, Rod Tucker (both Australia)

TV UMPIRE: Adrian Holdstock (South Africa)

MATCH REFEREE: David Boon (Australia)

Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2021

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