Babar Azam plays a shot for boundary during the 1st Twenty20 match against Zimbabwe at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Saturday. AP
Captain Babar Azam hit a fluent half century and spurred Pakistan to a six-wicket victory over Zimbabwe in the first Twenty20 international match at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on Saturday.
Azam proved yet again why he is one of the top batsmen in white-ball cricket with an attractive 55-ball 82 to anchor Pakistan's chase of a modest 157-run target in 18.5 overs.
Mohammad Rizwan tries to run out Elton Chigumbura. AP
The win gives Pakistan a 1-0 lead in the three-match series and a 12th straight win over Zimbabwe in all Twenty20 international cricket.
Mohammad Hafeez scored 36 off 32 balls and together with Azam shared an 80-run stand as fast bowler Blessing Muzarabani finished with 2-26.
Earlier, 20-year-old Wesley Madhevere hit nine fours and a six to score an unbeaten 70 but Pakistan's pace still restricted Zimbabwe at 156-6.
Babar Azam and Chamu Chibhabha pose with trophy of Twenty20 series. AP
Elton Chigumbura, who will retire after the series ends on Tuesday, made a quickfire 21 off 13 balls, but Zimbabwe's top order struggled to accelerate against fast bowlers Haris Rauf (2-25), Wahab Riaz (2-37) and Mohammad Hasnain (1-25). The second match will be played on Sunday.
England captain Eoin Morgan led from the front as the hosts beat Pakistan by five wickets to win the second Twenty20 international at Old Trafford on Sunday.
“It’s really difficult to come from red-ball to white-ball,” Babar told reporters on Thursday. “We only got one day for practice, yesterday we had a little bit with the white ball. It’s all in the mindset, we hope that we will come up with a good performance.”
Though Babar scored a half-century and Pakistan won the low-scoring warm-up game against the West Indies on Monday, the captain consumed 41 deliveries for his 50, while Rizwan struck his 13 off 17 balls and didn't score a single boundary.
After the loss of recalled Sharjeel Khan for 18 off the last ball of the fourth over, Rizwan and Azam put on 126 runs for the second wicket before the captain was out for 52 in the third ball of the final over.
The former Pakistani captain, who has represented 19 teams in the T20 format, scoring 3,698 runs for the national side and 2,398 for the Kings, reached the milestone in 271 innings as opposed to Gayle who achieved the feat in 285 innings.
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