KARACHI: Pakistan batsman Babar Azam’s second consecutive ODI century and a swashbuckling 90 by Shoaib Malik propelled the Men in Green to a hugely impressive score of 337-5 in the second ODI of the three-match series against the West Indies.
Batting first on a typical Sharjah belter, the Pakistan batsmen took full advantage of some loose offerings by the tourists despite losing openers Azhar Ali and Sharjeel Khan early in the innings.
Babar scored a masterful 123 off 126 balls in an innings that bettered his sublime 120-run knock in the first ODI of the series on Friday — the Lahore youngster hit nine fours and a solitary six in his brilliant batting effort.
Malik bashed six sixes, including three on three successive balls off Suleiman Benn, during his 169-run third-wicket alliance with Babar; the right-hander perished for 90 off 84 balls. His innings also included three fours.
Perseverance the key, says centurion Azam
Sarfraz Ahmed upped the ante towards the end of the innings with a 47-ball 60 as Pakistan added 97 runs in the final 10 overs of their innings.
The wicketkeeper-batsman increased the tempo of his innings in the last few overs as the tourists wilted in Sharjah’s heat and humidity.
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Former selector Haroon Rasheed praised Pakistan’s batting for their stellar show in the first innings of the second ODI, especially singling out Azam’s confident and composed display with the bat.
“It was pleasing to see Babar display his skill and class by scoring consecutive centuries,” Rasheed told The Express Tribune. “Pakistan batsmen are making full use of both the conditions and the lack of quality in West Indies’ bowling.”
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Rasheed also credited Malik for adapting well to the number four role. “Malik too deserves a lot of credit for the way he has adopted to number four; it is just the ideal role for him to play as he rotates the strike brilliantly, runs fast between the wickets and, of course, also has the shots to clear the boundary with ease.”
Rasheed, who played 23 Tests for Pakistan, added that the foundation provided by the top-order has helped middle and lower-order batsmen in scoring at a brisk rate.
“The top-order, by starting strongly and confidently, is helping the entire team. The batsmen lower down the order can play with an uncluttered mind and go for their shots once the top-order has provided a base. It is also refreshing to see the increasing strike rates achieved by the batsmen,” he said.
Babar praised for Azam of an innings
The 63-year-old also feels that the momentum generated by the team against the West Indians can hold them in good stead for their future tours, especially the daunting Australian tour, and in their pursuit for direct qualification for the 2019 World Cup — Pakistan need to finish eighth or above before the deadline next year if they are to directly make it to the world event.
“If you see Australia’s performances in their ODI series against South Africa you’ll notice a decline in their bowling,” said Rasheed. “There’s a lot of inexperience in their squad at the moment and with the right planning, Pakistan can be very competitive which is crucial for direct qualification for the World Cup.”
Courtesy : Express Tribune