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T20 World Cup: Babar, Rizwan strike fifties as Pak post 189/2 (ld)

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Abu Dhabi, Nov 2 (IANS) Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan cemented their reputation as the premier opening partnership in the shortest format of the game with another century stand and helped Pakistan post a challenging 189/2 in 20 overs against Namibia in a Group 2 match in the Super 12 stage of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup here on Tuesday.

Pakistan skipper Babar Azam, on winning the toss elected to bat first as he wanted his batters to spend some time in the middle, setting a target as they have won their first three matches in the Super 12 stage by chasing. With Pakistan virtually assured of a place in the knockout stage, Babar wanted Pakistan batters to spend more time in the middle ahead of the tougher matches.

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On Tuesday, Babar Azam and Rizwan struck contrasting half-centuries as they compiled their fifth century stand to lead Pakistan’s charge against Namibia. Babar was precise and in control, while Rizwan 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 blasted 70 off 49 deliveries, hitting seven well-timed boundaries in the process.

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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 they 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 midwicket Wiese as Pakistan lost their first wicket for 113.

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Fakar Zaman (5) did not contribute much but Mohammad Hafeez blazed to a nice cameo of 32 not out off 16 balls, studded with five boundaries as 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 before hitting JJ Smit for four fours, a six, and two runs for a total of 24 runs as Pakistan ended their innings in a flurry of activity.

It could prove a very difficult target for Namibia considering Pakistan’s strong bowling attack.

Brief scores

Pakistan 189/2 in 20 overs (Babar Azam 70, Mohammad Rizwan 79 not out, Mohammad Hafeez 32 not out; David Wiese 1/30) against Namibia.

–IANS

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