Babar Azam hits a six (L), celebrates his fifty and Shoaib Malik (R) leaves the pitch during the T20 World Cup match in Sharjah on Sunday. AFP
Pakistan defeated Scotland by 72 runs on the back of magnificent half centuries from Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik on Sunday to set-up a Twenty20 World Cup semi-final clash against Australia.
Skipper Babar scored a polished 47-ball-66 for his 24th fifty in Twenty20 internationals, and his fourth in five matches, while Malik smashed an 18-ball 54 not out as Pakistan posted 189-4 in their 20 overs.
Scotland were never in hunt as they managed 117-6 with Richie Berrington fighting a lone hand during his 37-ball 54 not out with four boundaries and a six.
The victory gave Pakistan five wins in as many games, topping the Group 2 with ten points. They now face Australia in the second semi-final in Dubai on Thursday. England will face New Zealand in the first semi-final in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
Babar Azam plays a shot during the T20 World Cup match in Sharjah. AFP
Scotland lost skipper Kyle Coetzer (nine), Matthew Cross (five) and George Munsey (17) before they crossed fifty and it was left to Berrington and Micheal Leask (14) to add 46 for the fifth wicket. But the asking rate continued to mount as spinner Shadab Khan (2-14) kept up the pressure. Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf and Hasan Ali claimed a wicket each.
Earlier, Babar had set the platform with another fine knock. Malik then punished the Scottish attack during his fiery knock comprising six hits over the fence and one boundary, taking 26 off Chris Greaves's last over. Babar smashed five boundaries and three sixes to become the tournament's highest run scorer, passing England's Jos Buttler's 240 in five matches with 264 in as many games.
He holed out to spinner Greaves in the 18th over as Pakistan lifted the scoring rate, adding 129 in the last ten overs and an incredible 77 in the final five. Babar and Mohammad Rizwan (15) had put on a slow 35 for the opening stand.
Rizwan, when on five, broke West Indian Chris Gayle's record for most runs in Twenty20 cricket in a calendar year. Rizwan now has 1,676 runs in 41 matches. Gayle had notched 1,665 in 36 matches in 2015.
Mohammad Hafeez scored a brisk 19-ball 31 with four boundaries and a six.Babar said his team wasn’t complacent and that was the reason he didn’t make any changes to the playing XI that has won four consecutive games.
Scotland, which did exceedingly well in the qualifiers, slipped badly in the Super 12s, losing all four of their games. They made two changes from the team that was routed by eight wickets in the last match when India chased down 89-2 in a mere 6.3 overs. Batsman Calum MacLeod was replaced by Dylan Budge while
Alasdair Evans made way for Hamza Tahir.
If Pakistan win they top the group and play Australia in the second semi-final in Dubai on Nov.11. England and New Zealand are the other two teams in the semi-finals.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Shah Afridi
Scotland: Kyle Coetzer (captain), George Munsey, Richie Berrington, Michael Leask, Matthew Cross, Dylan Budge, Hamza Tahir, Chris Greaves, Mark Watt, Safyaan Sharif, Brad Wheal
Umpires: Paul Wilson (AUS) and Rod Tucker (AUS)
TV Umpire: Adrian Holdstock (RSA)
Match Referee: David Boon (AUS)
Asif Ali stole the show with a quick-fire 12-ball 27 cameo after Haris Rauf took four for to help Pakistan set up a five-wicket victory against New Zealand in their T20 World Cup match at Sharjah Stadium on Tuesday.
"If India comes in the final, then it would be very good for the International Cricket Council, fans around the world and for world cricket," he said. "That will bring the two countries closer. For me, it should be a win for love and defeat for hate."
"I think young players should see him as a role model as he is still competing with them in domestic events and that shows how mentally strong he has been. "He is looking good and that shows he wants to go on a high."
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