Recent Match Report – Pakistan vs Scotland 41st Match, Group 2 2021/22

Pakistan 189 for 4 (Babar 66, Malik 54*) beat Scotland 117 for 6 (Berrington 54*, Shadab 2-14) by 72 runs

Like he has done all through the tournament, Babar Azam set anchor and scored his fourth half-century of the competition while other batters rallied around him to lift Pakistan to their fifth win of the competition. Previously it was Mohammad Rizwan or Asif Ali who brought out the fireworks while Babar held up one end, but on this occasion it was their two most experienced batters who entertained the Sharjah crowd.
Shoaib Malik, who made his international debut in 1999, smacked an unbeaten 54 in 18 balls. Mohammad Hafeez, who made his international debut in 2003, shellacked 31 in 19. And after their hitting lifted Pakistan to 189, another top bowling effort saw them defeat Scotland rather comfortably by 72 runs and seal a semi-final date with Australia after becoming the only team with a 100% win record in the group stage of the competition.

Babar makes it a habit

It doesn’t matter if the scoring is tough. Lesser mortals like Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman might struggle on a two-paced surface, but if you’re Babar, you will find a way to score runs. Although the strike-rate wasn’t high, he picked his boundary-balls smartly. Wide balls were smacked square through the off side, tossed up deliveries from slower bowlers were met with a skip down the track, and half-trackers were walloped off the back foot. That ensured Pakistan kept ticking along even though Rizwan and Fakhar combined to score just 21 runs in 30 balls.

After reaching his fifty in 40 balls, Babar smacked two sixes off the spinners Hamza Tahir and Mark Watt to show the first signs of Pakistan changing gears to make up for a slow start. Eventually he fell in the 18th over, but by then his strike-rate had bloomed to over 140 when he fell for 66.

Age just a number for Malik, Hafeez

At 60 for 2 after ten overs, Pakistan were definitely in an uncomfortable position. But Hafeez has begun to make his cameos a habit. Against Namibia, it was his 16-ball 32 that brought life into their innings, and on Sunday, it was his 19-ball 31 that not only boosted the run rate but also gave Babar a bit more freedom to play his shots.

Hafeez set the tone for his innings with a straight drive off Tahir before smacking part-timer Richie Berrington over extra cover. Then he tore into the pace of Safyaan Sharif, hitting him for a six and two fours in the space of four balls. And although Sharif dismissed Hafeez at the end of the 15th over, the wickets still in the hut meant Pakistan would only operate in top gear from there.

And that was the case with Malik’s innings. Watt bore the initial brunt of Malik’s aggression with two sixes in one over. Sharif was then dispatched over deep midwicket and long on with ease. Before the last over, Malik’s numbers were already impressive having made 32 in 14 balls. But there was still some fuel left in the tank.

For the 20th over, Scotland decided legspinner Chris Greaves – who had an economy of 5.67 after three overs – should finish the innings, and for Malik that was easy pickings. After Asif eked out three runs off the first two balls, Malik feasted on Greaves. First ball to Malik was pulled over the leg side, second ball was pulled for four through square leg, third ball was tonked over long on and the fourth ball was pulled in front of square. Malik helped Pakistan score 26 off the last over to not only reach the joint-fastest fifty (in 18 balls) of the competition, but also set Scotland an improbable 190 to win.

Too much for Scotland to do

With those many runs to defend, Pakistan had the luxury of attacking with the new ball. They conceded 19 off the first three overs, but there were enough oohs and aahs from the infielders as the Scotland openers struggled with their timing. Tidy overs from Imad Wasim, Haris Rauf and Hasan Ali to close out the powerplay meant that Scotland were scoring at only four per over after six overs.

Hasan got the first Scotland wicket in the final powerplay over. Kyle Coetzer, struggling on 9, failed to pick his slower ball to hole out. The second Scottish wicket was a run of bad luck as Matthew Cross was caught napping at the non-striker’s end off a faint Wasim touch after George Munsey hit a straight smack. Two more fell in quick succession as Shadab Khan removed two batters just after the drinks break with two googlies. At 41 for 4 after 10.3 overs, the game was only going one way.

But Berrington did not want to wave the white flag just yet. Scotland’s only half-centurion in the tournament thus far added a second one to his tally by making an unbeaten 54. Hasan was struck over cover and midwicket, Shaheen’s delivery found the boundary too, Haris was swept smartly through backward square and Hasan was then smoked over long on. Berrington’s half-century came in 34 balls, but he was the only Scotland batter who could dictate the bowling. Otherwise, none of the other Scotland batters had a strike-rate of more than 100, and although they were not all out, they were well and truly beaten against a side growing in stature by leaps and bounds with the World Cup trophy now in their sights.

Record-setting day for Babar, Rizwan

Although Rizwan made 13, it was enough for him to become the man with the most T20 runs in a calendar year. He went past Chris Gayle’s 2015 tally of 1665 runs.

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx

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