Number-two ranked Pakistan gave a cricket lesson to Namibia in their maiden meeting on Tuesday as they booked a place in the semi-finals of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021.
Swashbuckling half-centuries by openers Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam, followed by a 16-ball cameo by Mohammad Hafeez helped the 2009 champions to 189 for two in 20 overs after they had elected to bat first at the Zayed International Stadium in a Group-2 fixture.
In turn, Namibia managed 144 for five with David Wiese using his knowledge about Pakistan bowlers from his Pakistan Super League experience by scoring 43 not out off 31 balls with three fours and two sixes. Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf and Shadab Khan picked up a wicket each.
The victory was Pakistan’s fourth in a row that confirmed they have become the first side to qualify for the semifinals from Group-2 irrespective of how their 7 November match against Scotland in Sharjah pans out.
Rizwan, later adjudged player of the match, belted eight fours and four sixes in a 50-ball 79 not out to record his second half-century of the tournament and 10th overall as he stitched a 113-run opening partnership with Babar Azam. The captain dominated the stand with a fluent and classy 49-ball 70 punctuated with seven boundaries that gave him his third half-century of the tournament and 23rd of his career.
Rizwan has now scored 951 runs in the 2021 calendar year and will aim to complete 1,000 runs when he plays Scotland, while Babar Azam has aggregated 721 runs. Both have featured in 21 matches apiece.
After Fakhar Zaman lasted just five balls, Mohammad Hafeez completely demoralised Namibia with a 16-ball 32 not out that included five fours. In doing so, he added 67 runs for the unfinished third wicket off 26 balls that lifted them to 189 for two.
Batting first for the first time in the tournament, Pakistan showed how to construct and develop an innings when they finished their PowerPlay at 29 for no wicket. They then accelerated their scoring rate, scoring 89 runs in the next nine overs to reach 118 for one.
In the final five overs, Pakistan displayed their ruthlessness and brutality with the bat, scoring 71 runs, including 24 runs in the final over from JJ Smit in which Rizwan struck a six and four fours.
David Wiese and Jan Frylinck picked up one wicket each, but the most impressive Namibia bowler was left-arm fast bowler Ruben Trumpelmann despite finishing wicketless and conceding 36 runs in his four overs.
Scores in brief
Pakistan 189-2, 20 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 79 not out, Babar Azam 70, Mohammad Hafeez 32 not out)
Namibia 144-5, 20 overs (David Wise 43 not out, Craig Williams 40, Stephan Baard 29; Imad Wasim 1-13, Hasan Ali 1-22, Haris Rauf 1-25, Shadab Khan 1-35)
Player of the match – Mohammad Rizwan
Next match – vs Scotland, Sunday, 7 November, Sharjah Cricket Stadium