Pakistan captain Babar Azam believes that as long as Fakhar Zaman was batting on Saturday, they “could even have chased 450” against New Zealand in Bengaluru. Speaking on an in-house PCB video, Fakhar and Babar talked about their unbeaten 194-run partnership that saw Pakistan post 200 for 1 in just 25.3 overs before rain put paid to the game, giving Pakistan a 21-run win by the DLS method. Pakistan were originally set 402 to win from the 50 overs.
“My view was as long as Fakhar was there, we could even have chased 450,” the Pakistan captain said. “When he plays innings like these, we win 90% of games. After every six I said to him, ‘don’t force the issue’. He said okay but then ignored me and started hitting sixes anyway. So I then said to him, ‘do whatever you want, just don’t get out’. [It’s] one of the best innings I’ve seen.”
While the prospect of rain had hung around all day, it hadn’t eventuated until partway through the second innings. New Zealand amassed 401, their second-highest ODI total, before a brief rain interruption delayed the start of the chase. But according to Babar, Pakistan approached the chase in the belief the game would go all the way.
“We didn’t have rain in our mind at all,” he said. “But the clouds came suddenly, and then we started to calculate the DLS and we wanted to stay with it throughout. We were trying to keep wickets in hand, and I was trying to take it deep. Fakhar was utilising the short boundary while I held one end up and we made sure we didn’t let the run rate get out of control.
Fakhar praised the wicket as “outstanding for batting”. He stopped short of calling it his best innings, reserving that for his 193 against South Africa at the Wanderers in 2021. But the value of an innings where he smashed an unbeaten 126 off 81 was not lost on him; he hit more sixes in that innings than any Pakistani has throughout the entire World Cup. And it meant Pakistan stayed alive, becoming just the second team to win an ODI after conceding more than 400 runs in the first innings.
“Of all the wickets we’ve played on this World Cup, this one was the best,” Fakhar said. “It was clear from the second over that the wicket was great for batting. If Southee and Boult aren’t swinging the ball, you know the wicket is great to bat on. After four overs or so, whatever little swing there was also evaporated, and that gave me even more freedom.
“This is a World Cup innings so this might be one of my favourite ones. It still doesn’t pip the 193 I scored at the Wanderers, because it’s the fastest wicket in the world and Asian players struggle there, but this innings and the situation I scored my runs in made me very happy.”
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