Azam’s 90 in vain as Pakistan lose T20 series winning streak

Pakistan's Babar Azam misses a shot during the T20I cricket match between South Africa and Pakistan at Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Sunday. (AP)
Updated 03 February 2019

Azam’s 90 in vain as Pakistan lose T20 series winning streak

  • ‘We had the game but we couldn't finish it,’ says Pakistan’s captain
  • Shinwari conceded 63 runs off his four overs

JOHANNESBURG: Babar Azam hit a majestic 90 but Pakistan's long streak of series wins came to an end in the second Twenty20 international against South Africa at the Wanderers Stadium on Sunday.

South Africa took a winning 2-0 lead in the three-match series with a dramatic seven-run win. Pakistan had not lost a T20 series since they were eliminated from the World T20 in India in March 2016.

Pakistan were on track to overhaul South Africa's 188 for three until Azam was out off the first ball of the 17th over. It started a collapse in which six wickets fell for 34 runs in four overs.

The contrast between the two innings was stark. South Africa started slowly but stand-in captain David Miller plundered an unbeaten 65 off 29 balls as the hosts scored 127 runs off the last ten overs, including 29 off the final over bowled by Usman Shinwari.

Pakistan scored rapidly at the start of their innings, with Azam hitting the first three balls off Beuran Hendricks for four. It was 70 for one at the end of the six-over power play -- 26 runs ahead of South Africa's total at the same stage.

Azam and Hussain Talat (59) put on 102 off 75 balls for the second wicket.

"We had the game but we couldn't finish it," said Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik.

The tempo of the game changed when Azam pulled a slower ball from Beuran Hendricks to deep midwicket after hitting 13 fours and a six in a 58-ball innings.

"We didn't start too well with the ball," said Miller, who was named man of the match. "We were too short and too wide but the bowlers pulled it back."

Although neither took a wicket, Miller praised left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi and new fast bowler Lutho Sipamla for economical bowling in the middle overs before the late-innings collapse.

Miller, captaining South Africa for the first time because Faf du Plessis was rested for the last two matches of the series, hit five sixes and four fours in an explosive innings, which followed a similarly aggressive 45 off 27 balls by Rassie van der Dussen, who hit four sixes.

South Africa made a relatively sedate start on an unusually slow, dry Wanderers pitch. Left-arm spinner Imad Wasim, who opened the bowling, took one for nine in four overs. He bowled a maiden to new opening batsman Janneman Malan, who had an otherwise promising innings of 33 off 31 balls.

 

 


Pakistan set to unleash 16-year-old Naseem Shah on Australia

Updated 20 November 2019

Pakistan set to unleash 16-year-old Naseem Shah on Australia

  • Naseem got plenty of attention in a tour game in Perth last week
  • Five former Pakistan players have made test debuts at a younger age than Naseem

BRISBANE, Australia: Sixteen-year-old Naseem Shah is ready to become the youngest test cricketer ever to play on Australian soil, with Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali confident the young paceman is among a group of bowlers who can help end a long winless streak Down Under.
Naseem, born on Feb. 15, 2003, got plenty of attention in a tour game in Perth last week not only because he tested the resolve of some experienced international batsmen, but also because it came soon after the death of his mother back in Pakistan.
Flight logistics and religious customs meant he couldn’t make it home in time for the funeral, so he stayed in Australia and skipped the first innings of the drawn tour game against Australia A before returning with a fiery eight overs in the second innings that netted 1-21, including the wicket of test opener Marcus Harris. It set him up for a test debut in the two-match test series.
“Obviously, it was a hard time for him but he coped with it and he came out and bowled the very next day, which is very heartening,” Azhar said Wednesday, on the eve of the first test at the Gabba. “We will definitely be looking to play him. He’s bowling really well.”
Azhar has played with Naseem at first-class level and thinks the young speedster has the fitness and the mental attitude to cope in the test arena. And he’s not concerned about the home team’s daunting record at the Gabba, where Australia is unbeaten since 1988.
“Not many players can reach (test) standard so early, but there are exceptions and he’s one of them,” Azhar said. “When I saw him first, I was so surprised. The control he had, the pace he had, and the temperament and the composure when he bowls is so exciting to see.”
Five former Pakistan players have made test debuts at a younger age than Naseem, including fast bowler Aaqib Javed, who was 16 years, 189 days when he played New Zealand in 1989, and Azhar said there’s no reason to hold players back based only on their age.
“The good thing about (Naseem) is he is very fit. I have no doubts about his fitness and his bowling skill,” Azhar said, reflecting his general confidence in a Pakistan team that is in a rebuilding phase and not expected to be overawed by Australia’s record at the Gabba. Pakistan hasn’t won a test series in Australia, and hasn’t won a test match here since 1995.
“We go in here with a lot of confidence. We have the talent to do well here. We’re very confident that if we execute our skills ... (we can) beat Australia. To do that, I think we have to keep believing and also play with no fear.”
Along with veteran paceman Mohammad Abbas, a pair of 19-year-old pacemen are also in selection calculations, with left-armer Shaheen Shah Afridi taking 12 wickets in his three tests to date and Muhammad Musa yet to make his debut.
While most of the selection focus has been on the fast bowlers, 33-year-old wrist spinner Yasir Shah is likely to play an influential role in the series. He struggled on his last tour to Australia in 2016, but returns with more than 200 test wickets and as a far better settled bowler.
The Australians will be playing a test series for the first time since retaining the Ashes in England, where opening batsman David Warner averaged just 9.5 in the series. He and Steve Smith were making their test match returns from one-year ban following a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in 2018 and had contrasting series, with Smith topping the scoring and holding many innings together for Australia.
Warner will be combining with a recalled Joe Burns at the top of a reshuffled batting order, and Australia skipper Tim Paine is confident the veteran opener will be back in scoring form.
“Just watching him the last few days, he looks like he’s back to his best, the ball’s making a different sound off his bat again,” he said. “But the most pleasing thing about Davey was during the Ashes when he was in the worst form of his career he didn’t change a bit, and a lot of players would.
Paine said Mitchell Starc was back approaching top form and he expected the left-arm paceman to play a leading role against Pakistan after missing selection for all but one of the Ashes series tests in England.
Starc and fellow pacemen Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood will join spinner Nathan Lyon in a pace attack containing plenty of success in local conditions.