Pakistan 189 for 4 (Babar 66, Malik 54*) beat Scotland 117 for 6 (Berrington 54*, Shadab 2-14) by 72 runs
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.
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
Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx