A 47-run victory over New Zealand in Dubai puts the shine on another series win for the world's top-ranked team
Babar Azam breaks Virat Kohli record as Pakistan claim ninth straight T20 win
Babar Azam broke a record set by Virat Kohli as he passed 1,000 runs in Twenty20 cricket, while setting up another win for Pakistan over New Zealand in Dubai.
In the course of making 79 in the third T20I at Dubai International Stadium, Babar brought up his thousandth run in the format, in just his 26th innings. That is one innings fewer than Kohli, the India great, took to achieve the feat.
Babar’s effort was the centrepiece of a 47-run win for Pakistan, as they embellished what was already an 11th series win in a row by making it a second series clean-sweep in the space of two weeks in the UAE.
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It also meant the world’s No 1 side have now won nine T20 matches in a row, as they close in on Afghanistan’s world record of 11.
Babar may have finished as the top scorer for the fifth time out of the six matches Pakistan have played over the past two weeks, in matches against Australia then New Zealand.
But it should not detract from the excellence of Mohammed Hafeez. The 38-year-old Hafeez, who has enjoyed a remarkable career revival over the past month in the UAE, ended the T20 series against New Zealand with a batting average of 132 across the three matches.
He was out just once in that time, and saved his best for last as he made a brilliant 53 not out in 34 balls on a wicket that did not make such rapid scoring easy.
Seth Rance, playing his first game of the series, was the most miserly of the New Zealand bowlers.
He went for just 22 from his four overs, but Pakistan still racked up 166-3 in their 20 overs – the highest score of either series Pakistan have played here in the past two weeks.
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Given how tough chasing is usually on the slow tracks of the UAE, the tourists were likely to require a Kane Williamson special if they were going to get anywhere near. The captain delivered, too.
He made a sparkling 60 from 38 balls, characterised as much by orthodox strokeplay as it was T20 power-hitting.
He seemed to be carrying his side to the win at that point, but Shadab Khan – who had earlier suffered at the hands of Williamson – had other ideas.
The leg-spinner had New Zealand’s captain caught on the boundary rope, and then bowled Glenn Phillips, who had just started to find his range.
That was the start of a remarkable implosion by the away side. From being well positioned at 93-2, the Black Caps proceeded to lose six wickets for 11 runs - and all remaining eight for 26.
Shadab was again the star performer with the ball, despite the battering he suffered in his early overs. He picked up Ross Taylor off the last ball of his four overs, to end with three for 30.
Waqas Maqsood, who was making his debut for Pakistan on his 31st birthday, had another reason to celebrate, as he took his first international wicket, that of Lockie Ferguson, with the game all but won.
He had another present to celebrate shortly after, as he bowled Rance to set the seal on victory.