Babar Azam stars as Pakistan beat New Zealand to keep World Cup hopes alive

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Pakistan’s Babar Azam hits a four against New Zealand on his way to 101. (Reuters)
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New Zealand’s Jimmy Neesham hit a career-best 97 not out against Pakistan. (Reuters)
Updated 26 June 2019

Babar Azam stars as Pakistan beat New Zealand to keep World Cup hopes alive

  • New Zealand scored 237 for six in their 50 overs but that total proved inadequate as Babar Azam scored an impressive unbeaten 101
  • During the course of his innings, Babar became the second-fastest to reach 3,000 one-day international runs in front of thousands of fanatical Pakistan fans

BIRMINGHAM: Pakistan kept alive their chances of reaching the World Cup semifinals on Wednesday, cruising to a six-wicket win against previously unbeaten New Zealand at Edgbaston.
New Zealand scored 237 for six in their 50 overs but that total proved inadequate as Babar Azam scored an impressive unbeaten 101 and Haris Sohail (68) offered valuable support.
Pakistan reached their target off the first ball of their final over, finishing on 241-4.
“The wicket was difficult but my aim was to bat for 50 overs and if I did I knew Pakistan would win the match,” said man-of-the-match Babar.
“We know we’d need to score runs off the pace bowlers. Once (Mitchell) Santner came on it was doing stuff off the pitch so (Mohammad) Hafeez told me to stick at it and score three or four runs an over.”
Sarfaraz Ahmed’s side, who beat South Africa on Sunday to revive their flagging World Cup campaign, now have seven points, level with fifth-placed Bangladesh and just one point behind hosts England.
During the course of his innings, Babar became the second-fastest to reach 3,000 one-day international runs in front of thousands of fanatical Pakistan fans.
Babar, 24, took 11 innings more than South Africa’s Hashim Amla, who reached the milestone in 57 innings, but overtook West Indies great Viv Richards (69 innings).
He reached his hundred off 124 balls with 11 fours.
Earlier, Jimmy Neesham hit a career-best 97 not out while Colin de Grandhomme made 64 after New Zealand won the toss and chose to bat.
Left-arm seamer Shaheen Shah Afridi (3-28) starred as Pakistan reduced New Zealand to 83-5, with in-form captain Kane Williamson dismissed by leg-spinner Shadab Khan for 41.
New Zealand are second in the table on 11 points behind Australia, the only team who have qualified so far.
The top four teams qualify for the semifinals.


Jason Day shoots 66, trails by 2 strokes at CJ Cup

Updated 18 October 2019

Jason Day shoots 66, trails by 2 strokes at CJ Cup

JEJU ISLAND, SOUTH KOREA : Jason Day’s attempt to impress International team captain Ernie Els for a spot at the Presidents Cup took a positive turn on Thursday when the Australian shot a 6-under 66 to sit two strokes off the lead after the opening round of the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges.

In the first event of a three-tournament PGA Tour swing through Asia, Byeong Hun An took the lead with a 64 with Joaquin Niemann a stroke behind in second. Day was alone in third place.

Day is hoping Els will choose him as a captain’s pick for the International team against the Tiger Woods-captained US team in December at Royal Melbourne.

“Overall, it’s a great start,” Day said. “I’m excited for the rest of the week.”

He said before his first round that he was still hoping for a Presidents Cup spot.

“It is certainly disappointing not to make the team on my own merits. But it is a reminder that nothing is given to you in this game,” Day said.

“I certainly want to be on the team and believe I can be an asset to the Internationals. Being in my home country certainly gives me an edge and I’ve had some success on the sand-belt (courses) and Royal Melbourne in the past.”

Defending champion Brooks Koepka shot a 69 with an eagle on the 18th, his final hole. Last year’s runner-up Gary Woodland had a 71.

Justin Thomas, who won the inaugural 2017 CJ Cup, shot 68 and Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth each shot 70. Spieth is looking to end a lengthy drought — he hasn’t won since the 2017 British Open at Royal Birkdale, a span of 54 tournaments worldwide.

“Overall a good way to start. I felt I played a lot better than my score,” Thomas said. “Anytime you play where you’ve won before, it creates a lot of good memories.”

Kevin Na, who won in a playoff in Las Vegas two weeks ago, had a 72 and Sergio Garcia shot 73.

There are 78 players in the no-cut, limited-field event.

The top-ranked Koepka stirred some controversy on Wednesday when he pointed out that Rory McIlroy, his closest challenger for the No. 1 ranking, has not won a major since the American joined the PGA Tour in 2015. He was responding to a question about a rivalry between the pair.

“I’m not looking at anybody behind me. I’m No. 1 in the world,” Koepka said. “I’ve got open road in front of me. I’m not looking in the rearview mirror, so I don’t see it as a rivalry. I’ve been out here for, what, five years. Rory hasn’t won a major since I’ve been on the PGA Tour.”