New Zealand seemed to have applied the brakes with four wickets in the space of 14 deliveries but they couldn’t stop Babar Azam. The Pakistan captain led from the front, scoring a majestic 101 not out off 58 balls to help his side overcome New Zealand by 38 runs in the second Twenty20 International at a raucous Gaddafi Stadium on Saturday night, taking a 2-0 lead in the five-game series in the process.
Babar had seen four of his partners perish in quick time, including fellow opener Mohammad Rizwan (50) — with whom he’d shared a 99-run stand to start the innings after Pakistan had elected to bat, but he stayed till the end and raised an unbroken 87-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Iftikhar Ahmed (33 not out) to power his side to an imposing 192-4 by scoring his third century in the format with three sixes and 11 fours.
New Zealand gave a better account of themselves than Friday’s opener, which they lost by 88 runs, with Mark Chapman hitting an undefeated 65 featuring four sixes and as many fours but ultimately Pakistan had too much firepower with Haris following up his four-wicket show a day earlier by taking 4-27 to restrict the tourists to 154-7.
Rizwan and Babar had fallen early on Friday but they were back to their usual business here. After a sedate start, they broke loose in the fifth over, getting 20 runs off Henry Shipley with Rizwan hitting a towering six. The pugnacious Rizwan also hit six fours in his 34-ball knock before being dismissed by Matt Henry.
It brought New Zealand back in the game with Fakhar Zaman chopping Henry onto his stumps first ball and Saim Ayub holing out at the square leg fence to James Neesham, who soon had Imad Wasim caught behind. It was as good as it got for New Zealand as Iftikhar led the counterattack, smashing three sixes and a four during his 19-ball stay.
It was Babar, though, who stole the limelight. He launched Henry for a six over midwicket in the 18th over, following it with a four off the next ball and a six over point. In the final over, he slammed Neesham down the ground for the third six of his innings and then hit his 10th and 11th fours off the last two balls to bring up his century in stunning fashion.
New Zealand made a solid start before off-spinner Shadab Khan provided Pakistan the breakthrough when he trapped their captain Tom Latham lbw to break an opening stand of 44. Imad then cleaned up opener Chad Bowes (26) before Haris ripped through the New Zealand middle order — all of his victims ending up caught — to end the game as a contest despite the best efforts of Chapman.