A world record unbeaten 203-run partnership that was devastating in its brutality and yet delectable in its beauty saw Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam chase down 200 against England with three balls to spare, and without the loss of a single wicket. Babar scored his second T20I hundred, taking 62 balls to get there, while Rizwan’s unbeaten 51-ball 88 was a more than adequate supporting act.
The wicket seemed to play especially slow in the first innings, so the 199 England put up looked well above par at the time. That came thanks to two con-trasting innings from the England middle order, with Ben Duckett’s pragmatic shot-making setting a platform, before Moeen Ali’s furious elegance saw him caress an undefeated 55 off 23. Given Babar had said at the toss 160 would be the upper limit of what Pakistan wanted to chase, England looked invulnerable.
But for all of Pakistan’s strike rate issues up the order, there has never been any evidence Babar and Rizwan aren’t at their best when chasing a total, no matter what that total might be. They did, after all, gun down 204 against South Africa in April 2021 with a 197-run partnership, and they were more than up for the relentlessly attacking cricket they would have to subject England’s bowling to. Fifty-nine came off the powerplay, and the openers simply continued in the same vein as the visitors ran out of ideas. Alex Hales grassing Rizwan in the powerplay was a sliding doors moment, as a virtually chanceless opening pairing timed the chase to perfection to seal a stunning 10-wicket win.
There’s really little point talking about much else. England have the better power hitters, the better middle order, and significantly more batting weapons in their arsenal, and don’t Babar and Rizwan know it.—Agencies