After Pakistan thrashed Namibia by 45 runs and became the first team to enter the T20 World Cup 2021 semi-finals on Tuesday, Mohammad Rizwan said that the team has ticked all the boxes. Openers Rizwan and Babar Azam stitched a 113-run opening stand as Pakistan posted a 190-run target for Namibia.
While Babar Azam hit his third fifty in the ICC showpiece event, Rizwan went berserk towards the end to finish on unbeaten 79 off 50 balls. He accumulated as many as 24 runs from the 20th over bowled by Jj Smit. Pakistan collected 62 runs without losing any wicket in the last four overs. Veteran batsman Mohammad Hafeez also played a crucial knock and provided a much-needed impetus towards the end with his 16-ball 32. With the fourth consecutive win, unbeaten Pakistan became the first team to qualify for the semi-finals.
Chasing 190, Namibia lost the wicket of Michael van Linger early. However, Stephen Baard (29) and Craig Williams (40) partnered for 44 runs for the second wicket to take the team's total past 50 before the end of ninth over. Baard had to depart for the pavilion after a brilliant throw form Haris Rauf. Captain Gerhard Erasmus joined Williams but could manage only 15 off 10 balls. Namibia's top-scorer Williams was undone by Shadab Khan on the final delivery of the 14th over. The minnows lost only one wicket in the last six overs but fell 45 runs short of the target.
In the post-match presentation ceremony, Man of the Match Mohammad Rizwan, who smashed eight fours and four sixes during his stellar knock, stated that batting conditions were tough at the start of the innings and that is why Pakistan resorted to playing attacking cricket towards the end. The wicketkeeper-batsman also revealed the suggestions he got in the middle from team's very own 41-year-old 'professor' Hafeez.
"It was difficult to bat initially and conditions proved to be very tricky for both of us (Me and Babar). Even when we tried to play normal shots or big hits, it just didn't work out and then we decided to take it deep and attack at the end. But that said, I want to give the credit to the (Namibia) bowlers because they kept bowling in the same area at the start and bowled really well. Hafeez's innings gave us the momentum and he kept telling me to stay patient and in the last over I decided to go hard and got some useful runs. We are gelling well as a team and have ticked all the boxes and will see what lies ahead for us," Rizwan said.
Babar Azam looking to maintain the same intensity
Further, Pakistan captain Babar Azam said that putting the batting line-up on test was the agenda for the Men in Green at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Notably, Pakistan batted in the first innings for the first time in the ongoing ICC showpiece event. Babar Azam had opted to field first after winning the toss against India and New Zealand. The team was asked to field first by Afghanistan in their third match. The 27-year-old leader maintained that Pakistan will look to continue firing on all the cylinders.
"It's really good, we're maintaining our winning momentum. We wanted to do things differently today, test our batting. Conditions were tough early on, they bowled well and we wanted to take the partnership deep. The way Hafeez batted and got into form, it was important for us as he is a key player. Hasan Ali was given the new ball as conditions were suitable. If you need to win tournaments, you need to be consistent across all departments. The fielding was a bit lax, there was dew, so that's an area to improve. Need to keep improving and irrespective of whom we face in the semifinal, we want to maintain the same intensity," Babar Azam said.