Babar Azam’s superb run in the Vitality T20 Blast continued on Saturday with the Pakistan batsman registering another explosive fifty to help Somerset beat Glamorgan by 25 runs.
A 42-ball 63 from Babar helped Somerset post 177-8 in their 20 overs at Taunton before Glamorgan were bowled out for 152 in their reply.
Opening the batting along with Tom Banton, Babar struck seven boundaries and one six during his entertaining stay at the crease before finally perishing in the 16th over of the innings.
It was the fourth half-century of the tournament for the right-handed batsman who continues to lead the run-scoring charts with 541 runs to his name in 11 innings at an average over 60.
The Pakistan man is more than 100 runs ahead of his next competitor and fellow Somerset opener Banton who has scored 440 runs in the same amount of innings.
Babar also managed to register a superb unbeaten ton in a clash against Hampshire earlier this month which was only his second ever century in the T20 format.
It continues an excellent run of form in England for the Pakistan batsman who scored 474 runs for the Men in Green in the 2019 World Cup.
Saturday’s win over Glamorgan has moved Somerset back into fourth spot in the Southern Group standings and it keeps their hopes of making the quarter-final alive with two games remaining.
Babar and Somerset will next be in action on Tuesday at the Oval in London when they take on Surrey.
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Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting believes the second new-ball will be key for the visitors on a pivotal Day Four of the third Ashes Test against England at Headingley.
The Aussies are just one win away from retaining the historic urn in England for the first time since 2001 but Tim Paine and his men were frustrated for a large part on Day Three by a resurgent batting display from the hosts.
Having been bowled out for just 67 runs in their first-innings, England reached 156-3 at stumps on Saturday in their chase of a target of 359 runs. Skipper Joe Root dug in with an unbeaten 75 while Joe Denly registered his first half-century of the series as the hosts finally showed a backbone with the bat.
They still need 203 runs further for a victory to level the five-match series and Ponting is confident that Australia’s bowlers can seize the new-ball advantage to thwart any such plans.
“I know England have played really well this afternoon, they dug deep,” Ponting told cricket.com.au.
“Denly and Root’s partnership was outstanding, but I think Australia has still got plenty of runs. We’ve seen Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins bowl outstandingly well right through the game and I think as the game goes on Nathan Lyon is going to come in to it more and more.
“The wicket looks like it’s flattened out considerably late this afternoon but there’s a new ball around the corner tomorrow morning. It’s been a new-ball wicket all game. The other thing we’ve seen is in the game it has been a really hard wicket for anyone to come in and start on.”
England have never successfully chased a target as high as 359 runs in the final innings of a Test match with a chase of 332 runs in 1928 against Australia being their previous best.
England wholeheartedly believe they can haul down what would be a record pursuit of 359 to keep the Ashes series alive, according to Joe Denly.
Australia added 75 to their overnight lead of 283 on day three of the third Ashes Test at Headingley before a 126-run partnership between Joe Root and Denly formed the backbone of England’s 156 for three at stumps.
Root was still there at the close on 75 not out, alongside Ben Stokes, who showed plenty of restraint in scoring only two off 50 balls to set up the prospect of gripping fourth day’s play at Headingley.
England’s highest successful chase of 332 for seven was in 1928 but Denly, who contributed 50 on Saturday, insists the current crop are excited by the possibility of making history to stop Australia from retaining the urn.
He said: “It would have been nice to end the day with Rooty but in saying that, I still think we’re in very good position, there’s a lot of belief in that dressing room and a lot of excitement about tomorrow.
“We went in to today, never thinking about a draw or losing, only about winning – that belief has to be there. At the end of the day we’re in a reasonable position.
“We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves. We understand there is a tricky period in the morning with new ball coming up.
“But we have Rooty and Stokesy – two world-class batters in – so get through that and we will be in a great position. With the team we have, we can win games from any position, I believe.”
Australia only need seven wickets to move into an unassailable 2-0 series lead although their prospects of victory were closer when England slipped to 15 for two, one day on from their abject 67 all out.
Root had made nought in his previous two innings but he led by example with a steely knock while Denly was forced to weather an early barrage before contributing his second Test half-century.
Denly arrived at the crease with an average of only 22 but when asked whether he felt he was playing for his international future, he responded: “I wasn’t thinking about it like that.
“As top-order batter you are always under pressure to score runs – I got couple of starts and haven’t been able to capitalise.
“It’s never ideal when you get bowled out for 67, it wasn’t good enough and we had to show a bit of fight and a bit of character in the second innings.”
Marnus Labuschagne thinks Australia need to remain patient in order to seal victory.
He said: “The wicket’s flattened out a little bit and day three is probably one of the better days to bat on the wicket. If we show the same discipline we did today with the new ball tomorrow, we’ll definitely reap the rewards.”
Labuschagne, included following Steve Smith’s absence because of concussion, contributed 80 from Australia’s 246 all out but took a blow to the helmet from a Jofra Archer bouncer for the second time in two Tests.
He added: “You obviously don’t like getting hit in the head but it obviously wakes you up. The doc, it’s a bit of a laugh now, he comes out and I’m like ‘doc, I’m alright, I’m good’.
“I think he knows now. If I do get hit properly I think there will be a clear difference. The last few have just been glancing blows.”
Provided by Press Association Sports