Babar turns focus to Windies after series win over Zimbabwe - GulfToday

Babar turns focus to Windies after series win over Zimbabwe


Pakistan players pose with the trophy after winning the Test series against Zimbabwe in Harare on Monday. Associated Press

Pakistan captain Babar Azam lauded his players after they completed a successful southern Africa tour with a second straight innings victory over Zimbabwe on Monday -- then looked ahead to his team’s planned tour of the West Indies in July.

It took Pakistan five overs to take the remaining Zimbabwe wicket to seal a win by an innings and 147 runs on the fourth day of the second Test at Harare Sports Club and take the series 2-0.

Shaheen Shah Afridi had Luke Jongwe caught behind for 37 to complete a five-wicket haul. He took five for 52.

Zimbabwe, who resumed at 220 for nine, were all out for 231.

Speaking at the post-match presentation, Babar said his players had shown character and he was particularly pleased with the performance of the batsmen, especially man-of-the-match Abid Ali, who scored 215 not out in Pakistan’s only innings.

“The partnership between Abid and Azhar Ali was crucial,” he said. Azhar scored 126 in a second-wicket stand of 236.

“The confidence of our batsmen will be high and we have an important series in the West Indies coming up,” said Babar.

Pakistan are due to play three Tests and three Twenty20 internationals in the Caribbean.

Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor said he was disappointed with his team’s batting in both Tests but praised the Pakistan bowlers.

“They’re always at you. They’re a world-class attack and they made it very difficult for us,” he said.

Fast bowler Hasan Ali was named man of the series. He had match figures of nine for 89 in the first Test at the same venue and took a career-best five for 27 in the first innings of the second Test.

While Nauman Ali and Shaheen Shah Afridi picked up 5 for 86 and 5 for 52 in the second innings respectively. It’s the first time three players have registered five-wicket hauls for Pakistan in a Test match.

“I would like to have seen more positives,” said Taylor.

“To finish both games in three days or just after three days is off the mark.

“We’ve got a lot of things to address, particularly with the batting, maybe the mental side of that. A little more discipline. The wicket played well enough to take it five days.”

But Taylor said there had been some promising signs in a side depleted by injuries to four leading batsmen.

“I can’t fault the guys’ efforts. They are a young side, full of enthusiasm, wanting to learn and to get better day by day.”

Pakistan won the first Test by an innings and 116 runs.

It was Pakistan’s fourth successive series win on a seven-week southern Africa tour. They beat South Africa 2-1 in one-day internationals and 3-1 in Twenty20 internationals before defeating Zimbabwe 2-1 in a T20 series.

Four Test matches as captain for Babar Azam, and Pakistan have won all four. No Pakistan captain before Azam had won more than two consecutive Tests after their captaincy debut. Azam is also only the eighth captain overall to win each of his first four Test matches.

Babar win ICC Player of the Month awards: Babar was on Monday announced as the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) players of the month for April.

Babar managed scores of 103 and 94 in three ODIs against South Africa, which won him two Player of the Match awards, as Pakistan won the series.

His performances helped him move ahead of Virat Kohli as the No.1-ranked ODI batsman, becoming the fourth Pakistan player to do so after Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad, and Mohammad Yousuf.

Babar also played seven T20Is in April, four against South Africa and three against Zimbabwe, scoring a total of 305 runs at 43.75 with a strike rate of 126.55 with two half-centuries and a 59-ball 122 at the Centurion.

Among the highlights was a 197-run partnership with Mohammad Rizwan, the highest partnership in a T20I run chase.


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