Babar Azam, Shadab star as Pakistan go 2-0 up against Sri Lanka
ABU DHABI – Talented youngsters Babar Azam and Shadab Khan made the second One-Day International their own as their sparkling performance helped Pakistan clinch a low-scoring game by 32 runs in Abu Dhabi on Monday (October 16).
Babar hit a second consecutive ODI hundred with 101 while Shadab made a career-best unbeaten 52 to stage an incredible recovery from 101 for 6 to steer Pakistan to a fighting 219 for 9 on a slow pitch. Shadab then returned with a career-best 3 for 47 to dismiss Sri Lanka for 187 despite Upul Tharanga’s valiant century. Tharanga became the first captain in ODI history to carry the bat, ending with an unbeaten 112 off 144 balls.
Pakistan made life difficult for itself, dropping Tharanga as many as three times, but its spinners ensured it won.
At 93 for 7, Sri Lanka was down and out but Tharanga, along with Jeffrey Vandersay, added 76 for the eighth wicket. However, it only managed to delay the inevitable.
Tharanga held one end during his 15th ODI hundred but kept losing partners at regular intervals, with Mohammed Hafeez taking 1 for 24 and Shoaib Malik finishing with 1 for 17 to give Pakistan a 2-0 lead in the five-match series. On the other hand, Sri Lanka’s poor ODI form has seen it lose its ninth match in a row.
Pakistan too found the pitch hard to bat on, but Babar and Shadab led the fightback. Babar became the fastest to seven ODI hundreds, reaching the milestone in his 33rd innings to break Hashim Amla’s record of 41.
However, the other Pakistani batsmen fell while playing shots. Fakhar Zaman hit two boundaries in his 11 before a ball stopped on him resulting in an easy scooped catch. Ahmed Shehzad too fell in the same style after scoring just eight.
Hafeez hit a six, but the very next ball, Lahiru Gamage swung one late and the ensuing edge was taken by the wicketkeeper. When Malik and Babar added 31, it seemed they would have a long stand like they had in the first match, but Malik played a cut early and was caught behind. Sarfraz Ahmed’s lean patch continued as he dragged one to the stumps, leaving half the side back in the pavilion for just 79 in 20 overs.
It was then left to Babar to get support from the lower-order batsmen. He added 21 with Imad Wasim (10) and another 109 for the seventh wicket with Shadab.
Boundaries were so hard to come by that there was none for a period of 51 balls in the middle overs. But Shadab, known for his leg-breaks, proved he has the making of an allrounder with a mature shoulder on his head. He rotated the strike, ran fast and batted with resolve while Babar did his job.
The third match is also in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.