From Babar Azam masterclass to Usman Shinwari's fifer: 3 things learned from Pakistan's historic triumph
Talisman Babar Azam and speed merchant Usman Shinwari produced match-winning performances for Pakistan on Monday as One Day International (ODI) cricket final marked its return on Pakistan soil after a 10-year exile. Sarfaraz Ahmed's men registered a comfortable 67-run triumph over neighbours Sri Lanka to make sure jubilant supporters present at the monumental National stadium in Karachi witnessed nothing but history on Tuesday night. The decision to bat first after winning the toss proved fruitful for Pakistani side, who were upbeat for their first international game on home soil after four years.
MASSIVE!!— Babar Azam Lovers(@BabarAzam_Lover) September 30, 2019
1st Six for Babar Azam, little bit short delivery and Babar Deposit it for a Six! pic.twitter.com/SLeAi6tcT4
Newly appointed vice-captain of the Green Army, Azam thrived under his new role and was indeed a crowd puller with his majestic batting performance. Hailed as one of the best batsmen in the limited-overs format, Azam scored a remarkable century to power Pakistan towards a massive total that turned out to be a matchwinning target. Batting on the flat surface which always tends to add more glitter to his stroke-making, the Pakistani-vice captain had seemingly hit a purple patch with his consistency in white-ball cricket.
(All photos: AP)
Babar upstages Kohli with Sri Lanka masterclass
The 24-year-old notched up his century in 99 balls to help the hosts set an imposing target of 306 in 50 overs. Babar's gritty 115 off 105 balls was laced with eight fours and four maximums. By virtue of his triple-digit score, Babar surpassed Indian skipper Virat Kohli and became the fastest batsman to touch down 11 centuries in the 50-overs format.
Azam has slammed 11 centuries in 71 innings while Kohli achieved the same feat in 82. Hashim Amla is the quickest till date with his 11th coming in just 64 innings. Proteas wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock is the second fastest with 11 hundreds in 65 innings. Babar's heroics also made him the fastest Pakistani batsman to gross 1000 runs in a calendar year.
From 28-5 to 202-5: How The Islanders lifted late
The visitors were off to a terrible start and were falling like ninepins before Shehan Jayasuriya and Dasun Shanaka turned tables with record sixth-wicket partnership against the Green Army. Saving Sri Lanka's blushes by preventing a sudden collapse, Jayasuriya and Shanaka stitched a sublime 177-run stand which became The Islanders' highest wicket partnership for this wicket in white-ball cricket.
Though Jayasuriya showed valour in Karachi, the stylish batsman missed a decent opportunity to bring up his maiden century by four runs. Shanaka on the other registered his career-best score of 68 before getting dismissed by Shadab Khan. "Sri Lanka fought back hard and we did not get wickets through our spinners in the middle overs," Sarfaraz said after the match.
Remember the name: Usman Shinwari
Even though Babar had a record-lush outing with the bat for the hosts, it was his bowling counterpart Usman Shinwari who took home the man of the match honour for his magnificent five-wicket haul. For Shinwari, games with Sri Lanka have always triggered the best out of him in the past and the 2nd ODI in Karachi was no exception.
The 25-year-old was the wrecker-in-chef with his standout figures of 5-51 which dismantled the visitors for 238 inside 47 overs. The speed merchant overshadowed premier pacer Mohammad Amir and his top-order figures were also saw him bag a second back-to-back fifer against the Sri Lankan side. Pakistan and Sri Lanka will play the series decider on Wednesday at the same venue in Karachi.