Babar Azam is in a sad state. Criticism even if you don’t run, criticism even if you run. In the World Cup, he has failed, even if he got runs in two or three innings, he could not meet the needs of the team. After that, Babar did not get a run in the three Tests on the tour of Australia. He ended the year 2023 without getting any test fifty in the whole year.
Babar Azam took fifty today in the first match of the new year. But Babar’s fifty against New Zealand in Auckland did not help Pakistan. Pakistan were all out for 180 runs in 18 overs in a target of 227 runs given by New Zealand. New Zealand took a 1-0 lead in the five-match T20 series with a 46-run win.
Pakistan T20 captain Shaheen Shah Afridi sent New Zealand to bat first after winning the toss. Second ball wicket, Devon Conway out. Who knew then, waiting for the steamroller for Pakistan!
Another opener Finn Allen went on to score 34 off 15 balls with 3 fours and 3 sixes. But Pakistan could not stop captain Kane Williamson who dropped to three and Darryl Mitchell who dropped to four. Both batsmen scored fifties in a third-wicket stand of 78 off 40 balls, with Williamson ‘anchor’ – 57 off 42 balls with 9 fours. And Mitchell scored 61 runs in just 27 balls, 4 fours and 4 sixes!
In reply, Sayem Ayyub stormed for Pakistan, scoring 27 off just 8 balls with 2 fours and 3 sixes. Another opener Mohammad Rizwan (25 off 14) was dismissed in the third ball of the sixth over before Pakistan were 63 all out. At that time, it seemed that Pakistan was well on its way to victory. The stage also seemed set for Babar.
Just looking at the scorecard at the end of the match, it seems that Babar has used the stage well! Babar scored 57 runs in 35 balls, 6 fours and 2 sixes! But the story of the match says that Babar stormed towards the end. The run-rate pressure on Pakistan increased early in his batting.
Babar might have wanted to take on an ‘anchor’ role like Williamson. He will stay at the crease, play 100-120 strikerates, and the others will storm around him. The role played by Virat Kohli for India. But the way the batsmen know how to make a storm at the other end of Kohli, the way Mitchell stormed the innings at the other end of Williamson, Babar was not such a batsman at the other end today! Babar’s attempt to be ‘Kohli-Williamson’ did not work.
Fakhar Zaman got out for 15 runs in 10 balls, Iftikhar got out for 24 runs in 17 balls. Azam Khan returned with 10 runs off 9 balls. It was after Iftikhar’s dismissal that Babar burst into flames, but by then only Azam and the bowlers were left to call the batsmen at the other end. When Azam just came to the crease, at one stage Babar’s run was 36 off 29 balls! But today the match was such that here the batsman had to keep the strike rate like 150-180.
Babar hit Milne for a six in the 14th over after Iftikhar’s dismissal, followed by a six off two consecutive balls from Sears in the 15th over. Fifty came in all those fours off 33 balls. But in the 17th over, Babar hit Sears for four in the first ball and caught him in the second ball. As he returned as the seventh batsman, Pakistan’s faint hope of victory ended.