Babar celebrates ODI top ranking with record-breaking T20 innings against South Africa
Pakistan's captain Babar Azam (R) celebrates after scoring a century (100 runs) as Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan (L) looks. AFP
Babar Azam Wednesday celebrated his rise to ODI number one ranking with a record-breaking fashion as he hit a record ton in Pakistan’s record chase against South Africa in the third T20.
Babar scored the highest individual score for Pakistan in T20s and also was involved record 197-run partnership for any wicket with wicket-keeper batsman Muhammad Rizwan. It was also the fourth-highest T20I partnership overall, and the highest ever in a chase.
He also became the third Pakistan batsman to score centuries in all three formats of the game after Ahmed Shahzad and Rizwan. Babar’s ton means he is likely to become the undisputed king of white-ball cricket when the T20 rankings will get updated next week, subject to his performance in the last T20I of the series.
The victory has given Pakistan an unassailable 2-1 lead in four-match T20Is.
Babar Race to his 50 off just 27 balls and reached his century in the next 22 balls. He hit four sixes and 11 fours to reach his ton. His 49-ball come came when he hit a six and four to Shamas Tabrizi.
Babar was the only wicket that fell in the 18th over when he tried to hit a short ball of Williams that only ended up into a faint edge through to the keeper that ended a truly magical innings.
Babar fell for 122 off 59 balls hitting 15 fours and four sixes. Rizwan also played another superb unbeaten knock of 73 runs off 47 balls hitting five fours and two sixes.
Fakhar Zaman hit two consecutive boundaries on two balls he faced as Pakistan reached the target in 18 overs.
Babar Azam was named Player of the Match. He said had been waiting for this for a long time, he had planned for a long time, and today Allah has given him a chance to finish it.
“I stick to my strengths and play according to them, and the team's requirements. Rizwan bhai also played an outstanding innings. He was fasting, and he batted and he kept wickets, and he was outstanding. We get a lot of confidence and belief looking at him. I also achieved a dream in one-day cricket today (No. 1 ranking). I struggled hard, there was a lot of hard work that went into it. I keep trying to learn and add new things to my game, and I will keep trying to do the same. I think our first six overs, we have to give credit to Malan and Markram for playing outstanding innings, until the 10-over mark, but the way we came back in the last five overs allowed us to restrict them to around 200."
Earlier, Opening batsmen Aiden Markram and Janneman Malan set up South Africa for a big total with punishing half-centuries. South Africa made 203 for five after being sent in.
Markram (63) and Malan (55) hit powerfully to put on 108 for the first wicket before Markram was bowled by left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz off the fourth ball of the 11th over.
It was Markram’s third successive half-century, a feat achieved previously for South Africa only by Hashim Amla in T20 internationals. Markram hit six fours and four sixes in a 31-ball innings.
Malan faced 40 balls and hit five fours and two sixes in making his maiden T20 international half-century.
Pakistan surprisingly left out leg-spinner Usman Qadir, the most successful bowler in their defeat in the second match, which left captain Babar Azam with only five bowlers, who each had to bowl a full quota of four overs at a venue where high totals are frequent.
Nawaz, the only slow bowler in the line-up, dismissed both openers and contributed to the South African innings briefly losing momentum after the opening partnership. Nawaz took two for 38.
South African captain Heinrich Klaasen was lost of words: "Tough to explain. I thought we were about 10 runs short. Once again maybe lost a bit of momentum at the back end. Credit to them, they batted really well, they made a lot of good balls look bad. Our fielding was pretty bad, a lot of misfields. We've played a lot of cricket at this stadium, I've seen a lot of wickets like this. 200 is not enough on this wicket. It's a very difficult ground on which to defend. We had to score 10-15 runs more to make chasing harder, and then execute in the field. One thing we're guilty of over the last three games, is not one of our batsmen who made 50 went on to make a big score."
South Africa 203-5 in 20 overs (A. Markram 63, J. Malan 55) v Pakistan 205-1 in 18 overs (Babar Azam 122, Mohammad Rizwan 73 not out).
Result: Pakistan won by nine wickets.
Series: Pakistan lead the four-match series 2-1