Pakistan batsman Babar Azam has termed his match-winning ton against New Zealand in the 2019 ICC World Cup as the best innings of his ODI career so far.
The 24-year-old registered his maiden World Cup ton and 10th overall of his one-day career at Birmingham on Wednesday to help Pakistan chase down a stiff target of 238 runs with six wickets to spare.
The right-handed batsman had to survive a testing spell from Mitchell Santner on a rank turner of a pitch and then went on to play the anchor role to perfection to help keep Pakistan’s semi-final hopes alive at the World Cup.
“Yes, I agree this is my best innings,” Babar told broadcaster Star Sports after Pakistan’s hard-fought win.
“The wicket was difficult and turned a lot in the second half. The plan was to go through to the end and give my 100 per cent.
“When we started, the plan was to see out (Lockie) Ferguson. But when Santner came on, the plan became not to give wickets to him and cover up later when the fast bowlers come on.”
Babar’s innings also came in for praise from his skipper Sarfraz Ahmed who credited a team performance for Pakistan’s six-wicket win.
“The way we played today, it was a great team effort,” Sarfraz said.
“All the bowlers did really well and in the end Babar and Haris (Sohail) – one of the finest batting I’ve ever seen.
“Credit goes to Babar and Haris, the way they played on this pitch.”
The remarkable parallels between Pakistan’s 1992 and 2019 World Cup campaigns were maintained on Wednesday with both sides having notched three wins and a no-result apiece at the same stage.
That 1992 side led by Imran Khan went on to clinch the World Cup leading to suggestions from Pakistan fans that Sarfraz’s men might be able to do the same. The Pakistan skipper, however, is not reading too much into the parallels.
“When the World Cup starts, people think that way (comparing with 1992 side). But we’re not thinking like that,” he said.
“Our focus is the next match. We are very confident and hopefully we’ll do well,” Sarfraz added.
With the win over the Kiwis, Pakistan are now just one point behind hosts England who currently occupy the fourth and final semi-final spot. The Men in Green will next face Afghanistan in another must-win clash on Saturday before taking on Bangladesh in their final league match on July 5.
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