Pakistan have cemented their place in the semi-finals after beating Namibia by 45 runs in their T20 World Cup clash at Abu Dhabi — their fifth time in the semis in seven tournaments.
Earlier, skipper Babar Azam and fellow opener Mohammad Rizwan hit half-centuries to guide Pakistan to 189-2 in their Twenty20 World Cup Super 12 match with Namibia in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
Babar notched his 23rd Twenty20 international fifty with a 49-ball 70 while Rizwan finished with a 50-ball 79 not out after Pakistan won the toss and batted on a greenish Sheikh Zayed Stadium pitch.
The pair added 113 for the first wicket after Pakistan were slow out of the blocks, scoring just 59 in the first ten overs but ended with a flurry in the next ten, taking 130 runs.
Veteran Mohammad Hafeez scored a brisk 16-ball 32 not out with five boundaries.
Pakistan’s total is the second-highest in this tournament, behind Afghanistan’s 190-4 against Scotland in Sharjah.
Pakistan top Group 1 with three wins in as many games and a victory here will see them become the first team to qualify for the semi-finals.
Babar hit seven boundaries before he holed out to David Wiese in the 15th over while Fakhar Zaman was smartly caught by keeper Zane Green for five.
Rizwan reached his tenth half-century with a pulled six off Wiese in the 19th over before hitting four boundaries and a six to take 22 off JJ Smit’s final over.
Rizwan’s knock included eight fours and four sixes. Speaking after the toss, Pakistan skipper Babar Azam confirmed the Men in Green had not made any changes to the squad.
Meanwhile, the captain of Namibia was full of praises of the Pakistan cricket team, saying that the Babar Azam side was in-form and were a quality side.
In response to a question, the Namibia skipper admitted he was happy with Babar Azam’s choice and would have opted to bowl first had he won the toss.
After notching up three successive wins against India, New Zealand and Afghanistan, Pakistan is on the brink of qualifying for the semi-finals and is aiming to seal the spot with a win against Namibia in Abu Dhabi tonight.
Pakistan and Namibia will face each other for the first time in T20Is. Namibia will face their sternest test yet against Pakistan, who have been unstoppable so far in the Super 12 of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021.
Unbeaten in the T20 World Cup so far, Pakistan have gone from dark horses for the tournament to one of the strong favourites in just three games.
While bowling has historically been Pakistan’s strong suit, the team’s batting, led from the front by captain Babar Azam, has bailed them out of trouble twice in the last two games.
Namibia, on the other hand, come into this game on the back of their first loss in the Super 12 to Afghanistan. While it was expected that the Eagles would find it difficult to deal with the spinners in Afghanistan’s ranks, Namibia were done by the pacers who claimed seven of the nine wickets that fell.
As such, Namibia will have their task cut out facing the dangerous pace bowling trio of Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf and Hasan Ali, who have accounted for 14 of the 21 wickets Pakistan have claimed so far. The spinners, too, have played their roles to perfection, giving little respite to opposition batters between overs of searing pace.
If the Namibian batters are to hold their own against Pakistan, they will be banking on their “Bomb Squad”, consisting of captain Gerhard Erasmus, David Wiese and JJ Smit, to make a collective impact.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Shah Afridi
Namibia: Gerhard Erasmus (captain), Craig Williams, Michael van Lingen, Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton, Zane Green, David Wiese, JJ Smit, Jan Frylinck, Stephan Baard, Ben Shinkongo, Ruben Trumpelmann