Abu Dhabi, Nov 3 (IANS) Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan became the first pair to share five century-partnerships in T20 cricket as they helped Pakistan to a comprehensive 45-run victory against Namibia in a Group 2 match in the Super 12 stage of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup here on Tuesday.
This was Pakistan’s fourth successive win in this tournament, which took their points tally to eight and sealed them a place in the semi-finals from Group 2.
Pakistan skipper Babar Azam, elected to bat first as he wanted his batters to spend some time in the middle and set a target as they have won their first three matches in the Super 12 stage by chasing.
With Babar and Rizwan hitting contrasting half-centuries, Pakistan posted a challenging 189/2 in their 20 overs. Babar scored 70 off 49 deliveries while Rizwan compiled 79 off 50, which included 24 off the final over bowled by JJ Smit.
The target of 190 was too stiff for first-timers Namibia and they were restricted to 144/5 in their allotted 20 overs as Pakistan cantered to a comprehensive victory.
With the Pakistani bowlers in good form in the tournament so far, Namibia never got a chance to harbour hopes of chasing the stiff target. Namibia got off to a poor start as Hasan Ali, who opened the attack with Shaheen Afridi, castling Michael van Lingen (4) with one that moved a bit.
They managed to score 34/1 in the Power-play and reached 50 off exactly 50 deliveries as the going was tough and the Pakistani bowlers did not allow them many chances. Stephan Baard (29) was run out to a smart piece of work by Haris Rauf and Rizwan as Namibia slumped in a deep hole.
Craig Williams (40) and David Wiese (43 not out) were the top scorers for Namibia as they scored at a sedate pace to reach 144/5 in 20 overs, losing by 45 runs.
Earlier, Babar and Rizwan struck contrasting half-centuries as they compiled their fifth century stand in Twenty20 cricket t’ lead Pakistan’s charge against Namibia. Babar was precise and in control, while Rizwan struggled to get going initially, started slowly before exploding into action in the final over of the innings, blasting four boundaries and a huge six off JJ Smit as he remained unbeaten with 79 off 50 deliveries.
Babar completed his third successive half-century of the tournament as he struck 70 off 49 deliveries, hitting seven well-timed boundaries in the process.
Pakistan had got off to a sedate start as Ruben Trumpelmann started the proceedings with a maiden over, a rare occasion in T20 cricket. Though Babar tucked David Wiese through covers for a four in the fourth over, Pakistan could only manage 29/0 in the Power-play.
But th’y soon broke Namibia’s initial stranglehold and propelled the scoring rate with some good shots, capitalising on the inexperience of the rival bowlers and some slopping work by their fielders. Babar completed his fifth off 39 deliveries and with Rizwan too upping the ante, Pakistan reached 100 in the 13th over. But just when it looked like he will go for a hundred, Babar was out, holing out to deep mid-wicket off Wiese with the score reading 113.
Fakar Zaman (5) failed to did not contribute much but’Mohammed Hafeez blazed’s cameo — 32 not out off 16 balls, studded with five boundaries, ensured Pakistan kept up the scoring rate high.
Riwan, who struggled initially and survived a couple of close calls on video review, completed his fifty off 42 balls, hitting four boundaries and three sixes in the process. He was batting on 54 going into the final over and then blasted JJ Smit for four fours, a six, and two runs for a total of 24 off six deliveries as Pakistan ended their innings in a flurry of activity.
Pakistan 189/2 in 20 overs (Babar 70, Rizwan 79 not out, Mohammed Hafeez 32 not out; David Wiese 1/30) beat Namibia 144/5 in 20 overs (Craig Williams 40, David Wiese 43 not out; Hasan Ali 1-22, Imad Wasim 1/13) by 45 runs.