Pakistan seems to be quietly finding its magic touch in limited-overs cricket. The nation needed players with glamour, grace and superstar elements. The decision to hand captaincy to Babar Azam — the current face of Pakistan — has been lucrative.
In the tour of South Africa, Babar’s side bagged both the ODI and T20I trophies. The 3-1 victory in the shortest format was a shot in the arm for Pakistan, especially in a T20 World Cup year.
Babar’s 59-ball 122 in the chase of 204 in the third game unveiled the package that he is. The use of feet against the spinners to create an angle towards wide mid-on for boundaries, classical cover drives against fast bowlers to dabbing the 140K deliveries down the third man region — the right-hander’s timing and placement kept getting better.
He also proved that one doesn’t need to be a dasher to excel in T20 cricket. The knock included four sixes and 15 fours. He played to the field and found the necessary gaps.
Besides Babar, Mohammad Rizwan struck a chord with two crucial fifties — 74 and 73. He remained unbeaten on both the occasions to guide his team to the finishing line.
Rizwan carried his form to Zimbabwe to emerge a hero in the 2-1 series victory in Harare. Even the Zimbabweans could dismiss him only once, in the second game where Pakistan seemed a little tired to get going. They were bundled out for 99 while chasing 119.
The wicketkeeper-batsman ended the series with scores of 82 not out, 13 and 91 not out in the decider.
Meanwhile, Babar scored 52 off 46 balls to become the fastest to 2,000 runs in T20Is. Achieving the feat in 52 innings, he broke the record of Indian captain Virat Kohli who had taken 56 innings to get to the milestone.
Earlier in the week, the Pakistan star overtook Kohli to become the No. 1 batsman in the ODI rankings.
Clearly in a healthy mindset, Pakistan seems best prepared for the showpiece event in October. “In the T20 matches before the World Cup we will try to plug in the weak areas and get a good combination going,” Babar summed up.
Run fest in the mountains
Overlooked by the Hanthana mountains, the scenic stadium to the east of Kandy saw a run fest in the first Test between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh that ended in a draw.
The Bangladesh cricketers have been brave in touring New Zealand in the pandemic. Not being able to clinch a single victory on that tour added to the ferocity of the Tigers on a flat track in the sub-continent.
Young batsman Najmul Hossain Shanto hit the first hundred of the Test. The 533-minute stay on the crease fetched him 163 runs off 378 balls. Bangladesh’s new No. 3 added 144 runs with Tamim Iqbal and 242 with captain Mominul Haque to set the tone.
Dimuth Karunaratne led from the front by registering his maiden double hundred. The Sri Lankan captain batted for over 10 hours to get to 244 off 437 — his best in Tests. – AP
Tamim fell for 90 but Haque scored 127, supported by Mushfiqur Rahim (68) and Liton Das (50) as Bangladesh declared at 541/7.
Batting in their own backyard, the islanders were a step ahead of their opponents. They finished at 648/8 inviting Bangladesh to bat the last two sessions on day five.
Dimuth Karunaratne led from the front by registering his maiden double hundred. The Sri Lankan captain batted for over 10 hours to get to 244 off 437 — his best in Tests.
Dhananjaya de Silva’s 166 at No. 5 shut Bangladesh’s chances of a comeback in the game. Karunaratne and de Silva added 345 runs for the fourth wicket.
During the game, a groundsman at the stadium returned a COVID positive test leading to his dismissal from duties, along with nine others who were in contact with him.
The off-field story
Former Zimbabwe Test captain Heath Streak’s ban came as a shock to the cricket fraternity.
The 47-year-old, who is a coach now, has been banned by the International Cricket Council for eight years after passing on betting information and introducing players to a corruptor in exchange of gifts that included US$35,000 in bitcoin and an iPhone for his wife.
Heath Streak, who is a coach now, has been banned by the ICC for eight years after passing on betting information and introducing players to a corruptor in exchange of gifts that included US$35,000 in bitcoin and an iPhone for his wife. – AP
Streak, who has coached Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL, has apparently been in touch with an unnamed Indian man, who is being labelled as Mr X. He has been charged for sharing information before international matches, games at the Bangladesh Premier League, Afghanistan Premier League and the IPL.