Wednesday, 03 November 2021 | PTI | Abu Dhabi
Opener Mohammad Rizwan continued his scintillating form with a blistering 79 as a thoroughly professional Pakistan stormed into the semifinals of the T20 World Cup with a 45-run thrashing of Namibia here on Tuesday.
From scoring only 12 runs in his first 21 balls, the wicketkeeper-batter smashed 67 in the next 29 deliveries, as Pakistan pummelled 130 runs in the back-10 to set a daunting target of 190 for the tournament debutants.
Rizwan’s 50-ball knock contained four sixes and eight fours, while his skipper Babar Azam soaked up the early pressure with a classy 70 from 49 deliveries in a record-breaking 113-run opening stand.
With the knock, Rizwan (1661) surpassed Indian skipper Virat Kohli (1614) and remained just five shy of Chris Gayle (1665) to become the batter with most T20 runs in a calendar year.
Babar and Rizwan became the first opening pair to post five century-plus partnerships, bettering the Indian duo Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan’s tally of four.
The pair also became the first to aggregate 1000-plus T20I runs — 1041 — in a calendar year as Pakistan seized control of the game.
Mohammad Hafeez also returned to form with a sensational cameo of 32 not out from 16 balls (5×4), something that allowed Rizwan the much-needed breather in the middle.
Such was the impact of Rizwan and Hafeez in the back-end that Pakistan scored 71 runs from the last five overs.
In reply, Namibia were restricted to 144 for five with David Wiese making 43 from 31-balls and Craig Williams scoring 40.
Heading into the game, Hasan Ali’s bowling form was the weakest link in Pakistan’s otherwise flawless show in this World Cup, but the pacer seemed to have got his rhythm back, returning impressive figures of 1/22 in four overs.
Ali was given the new ball and he impressed early, cleaning up Michael van Lingen to give Pakistan a perfect start.
Namibia needed 120 with eight wickets in hand at the halfway mark but Pakistan looked in complete control.
Namibia’s superstar all-rounder Wiese kept producing his big hits but he lacked support at the other end in the daunting chase.
Earlier, Namibia took the honours in the first 10 overs, giving away just 59 runs at the halfway mark.
It was an uncharacteristically slow start for the Pakistani duo, who were also batting first for the first time in four games, with the Namibian bowlers hardly giving them any room.
Trumpelmann led the attack superbly, returning with figures of 2-1-2-0 in his first spell, as Pakistan made just six runs in the first three overs.
Rizwan struggled to get going and saw an LBW decision overturned while he was on two from 11 balls.
The wicketkeeper was further tested after being hit by a Ben Shikongo short-pitched delivery but he managed to hold on, even as his skipper went after the bowling.
Babar took the early initiative and complemented well en route to his third half-century from four matches.
Rizwan broke free against Namibia’s best bowler, Trumpelmann, stepping out to hit him over long-on.
It also meant that left-arm medium pacer Trumpelmann, who just conceded two runs and bowled a maiden in his first two overs, went for 34 in his last two with Rizwan-Hafeez going for the kill.
Pakistan also got some help with the dew settling in towards the back-end of the innings as the Namibians struggled to check the run flow, even as Babar and Co’s strategy to keep wickets in hand paid dividends.