Babar Azam smashes superb century and Mohammad Rizwan hits unbeaten 88 as Pakistan openers seal record 10-wicket win over England in second T20 and level the series 1-1
England were brought back down to earth with a bump as Pakistan’s under-fire openers combined to seal the biggest 10-wicket win in the history of Twenty20 internationals.
It appears ridiculous 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 expectation and passion reach levels other places around the globe cannot 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 chasing themselves but Moeen opted to bat first on a fresh pitch on this occasion, a decision that appeared to be vindicated when he himself struck a rapid, unbeaten half-century.
However, he was trumped by opposite number Babar, who struck a thrilling hundred, as Pakistan powered past the previous best chase without losing a wicket – the 169 target negotiated against them by New Zealand six years ago.
A dropped catch above his head by Alex Hales, back-pedalling from mid-off off the bowling of Liam Dawson was the only notable chance that England created on a pitch that the pair otherwise had total mastery of.
It came in the final over of the powerplay when Dawson, in for the injured fast bowler Richard Gleeson, held one back to induce Rizwan into a mistake.
Had they taken the opportunity, when Rizwan had half of the 46 on the board, things might have taken a different course but Babar in particular responded to accusations that he chews up too many deliveries, by reaching triple figures off just 62 of them.
Rizwan survived a half-chance when Moeen got his fingertips on 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.