Babar Azam smashes a superb century and Mohammad Rizwan hits unbeaten 88 as Pakistan openers seal record 10-wicket win over England in second T20 to level series 1-1
England were brought back to earth with a bump as Pakistan’s under-fire openers combined to secure the biggest 10-wicket win in 20-match history.
It seems ludicrous to suggest that Mohammad Rizwan and captain Babar Azam, the world’s number one T20 batter and the one-day equivalent respectively, should be the target of criticism.
But this is Pakistan, where expectations and passion reach levels elsewhere around the world can’t fathom, and the pressure was clearly on as they set off in pursuit of a 200-run target to level the series under the lights of the National Stadium.
England had gone 1-0 up earlier in the week and were chasing themselves, but Moeen opted to bat first on a fresh pitch on this occasion, a decision that looked to be vindicated as he hit a quick unbeaten half-century himself.
However, he was trumped by opposite number Babar, who hit a thrilling hundred as Pakistan raced past the previous best chase without losing a wicket – the target of 169 that New Zealand negotiated against them six years ago.
A dropped catch over his head by Alex Hales, pedaling back from mid-off off the bowling of Liam Dawson, was the only notable chance England created on a pitch the pair otherwise had in total command of.
It came in the last over of the powerplay when Dawson, deputizing for injured fast bowler Richard Gleeson, held one back to make Rizwan make a mistake.
Had they taken the opportunity when Rizwan had half the 46 on the board, things might have taken a different turn, but Babar in particular responded to accusations that he was chewing up too many deliveries by reaching triple figures on just 62 of them .
Rizwan survived a half-chance when Moeen fingered a cover drive in the penultimate over, but that would only have removed the ignominy of a first-ever 10-wicket loss for England in the game’s shortest format.