Babar Azam's century leads Pakistan to victory in second New Zealand T20I

Captain Babar Azam scores an unbeaten century to lead the charge for Pakistan

Sports Desk
Pakistans captain Babar Azam plays a shot during the second T20 cricket match between Pakistan and New Zealand at the Gaddafi Cricket Stadium in Lahore, on April 15, 2023. — AFP
Pakistan's captain Babar Azam plays a shot during the second T20 cricket match between Pakistan and New Zealand at the Gaddafi Cricket Stadium in Lahore, on April 15, 2023. — AFP

Pakistan lead the five-match series 2-0 after thumping New Zealand by 38 runs in the second Twenty20 International at the Gaddafi Stadium Lahore on Saturday. 

The Kiwis were restricted to 154-7 in 20 overs with Mark Chapman as the only batsman to offer resistance with 65 runs coming off 40 balls.

After winning the toss and electing to bat, Pakistan posted a total of 192-4 in their allotted 20 overs, with skipper Babar Azam scoring a brilliant unbeaten century, which included 11 fours and three sixes.

The openers Mohammad Rizwan and Azam provided a solid start to Pakistan, putting up a 99-run partnership for the first wicket. In reply, the Kiwis were restricted to 154-7 in 20 overs, with only Mark Chapman offering some resistance during the run chase with his score of 65 runs in 40 balls.

Pakistani bowler Haris Rauf stood out, taking four wickets for 27 runs in four overs. Pakistan now leads the series 2-0 after a victory in the first T20I on Friday at the same venue.

Despite missing eight players due to their commitments in the Indian Premier League, New Zealand made two changes for the second T20I, with Henry Shipley replacing Adam Milne and Cole McConchie taking the place of Ish Sodhi, who has a calf niggle. Meanwhile, Pakistan remained unchanged for the contest.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was absent due to a knee injury, leaving the captaincy to Tom Latham, providing an opportunity for new players to shine.

The remaining three T20 matches of the series will be played on April 17 in Lahore and on April 20 and 24 in Rawalpindi.

After the T20 series, Pakistan and New Zealand will also face off in five one-day internationals, as part of their preparations for the upcoming 50-over World Cup in India.

The tour is a compensation for New Zealand pulling out of their scheduled visit to Pakistan on the day of the first game in September 2021, citing security concerns. However, the Black Caps played two Tests and three ODIs in Pakistan just three months ago.

AFP adds: "I am very happy to perform in this match," said Azam, who is now the joint most successful T20I captain with 42 wins, alongside England´s Eoin Morgan and Afghanistan´s Asghar Afghan.

"I had two good partnerships and then our bowling was once again excellent. We have got experienced and exciting young bowlers who gave us back-to-back wins."

Mark Chapman scored a battling 65 not out for New Zealand featuring four fours and as many sixes, but lost partners at regular intervals after the tourists made a decent start.

Chad Bowes (26) and skipper Tom Latham (19) put on 44 for the first wicket in 6.2 overs, but as the asking rate soared New Zealand´s chase lost steam.

"We have been there or thereabouts but weren´t able to finish the innings off, both with the ball and bat," said Latham.

"When Babar plays like that, you tip your hat off."

Azam was the mainstay of the Pakistan innings after he won the toss and chose to bat.

He smashed a six and two fours in the last over to reach his third T20I century, becoming only the sixth batter to do so in the shortest format at international level.

Azam put on 99 for the opening wicket with Mohammad Rizwan, who scored 50 off 34 balls.

Azam, whose knock included 11 fours and three sixes, then added 87 for the fifth wicket with Iftikhar Ahmed, who finished 33 not out as the home team added 65 runs in the last five overs.

After removing Rizwan in the 11th over, New Zealand slowed Pakistan´s charge as Matt Henry then dismissed Fakhar Zaman for a duck and finished with 2-29.

Saim Ayub also fell without scoring and Imad Wasim was out for two as Pakistan lost four wickets for just six runs in the space of 14 balls.

Azam started the 20th over on 84 and looked like he would end short of a century, but he took the attack to James Neesham -- dispatching the last ball over cover for a four to reach his ninth hundred in all T20 cricket.

Only Chris Gayle of the West Indies has hit more hundreds in the format with 22, while India´s Rohit Sharma leads the T20I chart with four tons.

Playing XI

Pakistan: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Fakhar Zaman, Saim Ayub, Shadab Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Zaman Khan

New Zealand: Tom Latham (c & wk), Chad Bowes, Will Young, Daryl Mitchell, Mark Chapman, James Neesham, Rachin Ravindra, Cole McConchie, Henry Shipley, Matt Henry, Ben Lister