Karachi [Pakistan]: An absolute masterclass of an innings from Babar Azam helped Pakistan thrash England by 10 wickets in the second T20I of the seven-match marathon series on Thursday.
The opening pair of Babar and Mohammad Rizwan came out all guns blazing to secure a record opening partnership of 203 runs in the second innings of the match, in reply to the massive 199/5 first inning total of England. With this win, Pakistan leveled and secured the first win of the T20 series. England reached a daunting total of 199/5, with the help of captain Moeen Ali’s blazing (55*) and a quick-fire (43) from Ben Duckett. Pakistan’s Haris Rauf took two wickets for the hosts and ended with figures of (2/30) from his quota of allotted overs.
Chasing 200, Babar (110*) and Rizwan (88*) went ballistic from the word go and did not allow the English bowlers to settle down into a rhythm. The duo also silenced the critics, with both batters scoring with a superb strike rate throughout their innings.
Needing to chase at 10 runs per over, Mohammad Rizwan made his intentions clear with two boundaries in the first over. In the third over of Sam Curran, Babar Azam also caressed two boundaries.
The mayhem continued in the remaining power-play overs, with the two taking Pakistan to 59/0 at the end of six overs. Rizwan and Babar both reached their fifties in 30 and 39 balls, respectively.
Moeen’s choice to put himself on in an attempt to stem the flow of runs faltered, as the two openers hammered three sixes in the over to score 21 runs. Adil Rashid was treated with similar scorn after he was hit for two sixes in the 15th over.
After reaching his half-century, Pakistan’s skipper became even more lethal. He scored his fifty in 39 balls, and only needed 23 more to achieve the three-figure mark. He became the first Pakistani batter to score two T20I hundreds with his 62-ball century.
The two-star openers stayed unscathed, chasing down the total with three balls to spare to draw the series even 1-1.
After electing to bat first, England got to a great start as the last match’s hero Alex Hales partnered with Phil Salt to stitch a quick 42-run partnership in five overs. In the final over of the power-play, Shahnawaz Dahani turned things around for Pakistan, taking the wickets of Hales and Dawid Malan. England, on the other hand, did not recede, with Ben Duckett counter-attacking with the bat. England hit seven boundaries in the next eight overs, all of which came from Duckett on his way to a 22-ball 43.
Just as England looked dangerous again, the hosts responded with two wickets in two overs, sending both set hitters back to the pavilion. Phil Salt (30) was dismissed by Haris Rauf in the 12th over while the set batter Duckett was sent back by Mohammad Nawaz in the 13th over,
The visitors, however, did not back down and, chose to counter-attack. In a stand that included three fours and five sixes, Harry Brook (31) and Moeen Ali (55*) added 59 runs in just 27 balls. The captain made Pakistan suffer for a dropped catch in the 18th over with a frenzy of runs. Ali reached his fifty with two sixes off the last two balls, setting Pakistan a challenging goal of 200.
Shahnawz Dahani and Haris Rauf picked up two wickets each for the hosts.
Babar Azam was adjudged the ‘Man of the Match’ award for his superb century.