ABU DHABI, Nov 2:
Opener Mohammad Rizwan continued his scintillating form with a blistering 79 as a thoroughly professional Pakistan stormed into the semifinals of the T20 World Cup with a 45-run thrashing of Namibia here today.
From scoring only 12 runs in his first 21 balls, the wicketkeeper-batter smashed 67 in the next 29 deliveries, as Pakistan pummelled 130 runs in the back-10 to set a daunting target of 190 for the tournament debutants.
Rizwan’s 50-ball knock contained four sixes and eight fours, while his skipper Babar Azam soaked up the early pressure with a classy 70 from 49 deliveries in a record-breaking 113-run opening stand.
With the knock, Rizwan (1661) surpassed Indian skipper Virat Kohli (1614) and remained just five shy of Chris Gayle (1665) to become the batter with most T20 runs in a calendar year.
Babar and Rizwan became the first opening pair to post five century-plus partnerships, bettering the Indian duo Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan’s tally of four.
The pair also became the first to aggregate 1000-plus T20I runs — 1041 — in a calendar year as Pakistan seized control of the game.
Mohammad Hafeez also returned to form with a sensational cameo of 32 not out from 16 balls (5×4), something that allowed Rizwan the much-needed breather in the middle.
Such was the impact of Rizwan and Hafeez in the back-end that Pakistan scored 71 runs from the last five overs.
In reply, Namibia were restricted to 144 for five with David Wiese making 43 from 31-balls and Craig Williams scoring 40.
Heading into the game, Hasan Ali’s bowling form was the weakest link in Pakistan’s otherwise flawless show in this World Cup, but the pacer seemed to have got his rhythm back, returning impressive figures of 1/22 in four overs.
Ali was given the new ball and he impressed early, cleaning up Michael van Lingen to give Pakistan a perfect start.
Namibia needed 120 with eight wickets in hand at the halfway mark but Pakistan looked in complete control.
Namibia’s superstar all-rounder Wiese kept producing his big hits but he lacked support at the other end in the daunting chase. (PTI)