Pakistan 192 for 4 (Babar 101*, Rizwan 50, Henry 2-29) beat New Zealand 154 for 7 (Chapman 65*, Bowes 26, Rauf 4-27) by 38 runs
Babar and Rizwan more than made up for their failures yesterday with an outstanding opening partnership. After taking three overs to get set, they caught up with the rate superbly across the first half of the innings, powering at about ten an over across their 99-run stand. And while a cluster of wickets immediately after threatened to derail Pakistan’s progress, an unbroken 87-run stand between Babar and Iftikhar in 43 balls ensured Pakistan were firmly on top once more.
For Ayub lasted just one more ball before Rachin Ravindra struck to send him packing, drawing him into holing out at deep midwicket. Pakistan couldn’t find a way to stanch the bleeding at this point as Imad Wasim feathered Jimmy Neesham through to the keeper in the following over. Pakistan had lost four wickets for six runs over two overs, and New Zealand had stormed back into the game.
Having slowed down somewhat after the powerplay, as Babar is wont to do, not even his most ardent backers entertained notions of a ninth T20 hundred for the Pakistan captain. With three overs to go, Babar was still 35 runs away, but two sixes and a four of Henry’s final over saw him climb into the 80s. A canny penultimate over from Ben Lister though, with Babar deprived of the strike, looked to have dashed those hopes once more. He was still 15 away with the innings’ final four balls to go, and Gaddafi began to dream once more.
By the time Neesham was powered back over mid-off for six and Babar crept into the 90s, the crowd had been whipped up into a fervour. Seven runs away with two balls to go, he thumped another over mid-off for four to take it down to the wire. And, almost as if it were scripted, he would save his best shot for last, a glorious drive over cover that sailed to the boundary and brought up the most unlikely of his nine hundreds. He rocked back and let out a roar, and Lahore roared with him.
Rauf razes through middle order
If Chapman had someone to keep him company at the other end, New Zealand would have found themselves in with a real shot, but Rauf guaranteed that wouldn’t be possible. After a fledgling third wicket stand with Will Young where a 95-metre Chapman six off Shadab Khan was the highlight, Babar turned to Rauf for the wicket he wanted.
Pakistan’s fastest bowler answered his captain’s call, and then some. With his fourth ball back, he beat Young for pace, forcing him to hole out to Shadab Khan to set New Zealand back, but he was only getting started. He topped and tailed his third over with two more wickets. First, Daryl Mitchell found the speed too hot to handle, before he sent in a bouncer to new man Neesham who could only fend it to Shaheen Afridi at mid-off. And there was no escape for Rachin Ravindra from Rauf’s wiles either, as the young allrounder lobbed an offcutter straight to deep midwicket to effectively end New Zealand’s resistance.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000