If you thought today was the day an international match involving Pakistan was finally going to be boring — well, the Green Shirts proved you wrong once again.
Babar Azam’s men underlined their credentials as early Twenty20 World Cup favourites when they held their nerve to beat New Zealand by five wickets in Sharjah on Tuesday and secure a second straight victory in the tournament.
Chasing a modest 135 for victory after pace bowler Haris Rauf choked out New Zealand with four wickets, Pakistan, on a high after beating arch-rivals India in their Super 12 stage opener, were in trouble at 69-4 but crossed the line in 18.4 overs for a fine start in their bid for a second championship.
Mohammad Rizwan top-scored with 33, while Shoaib Malik (26 not out) and Asif Ali (27 not out) guided them home.
Names from the cricketing world, politicians and the sport’s umpteen Pakistani fans took to social media to express their relief at Pakistan having won the game, despite the one scare that brought everyone to the edge of their seats.
“Pakistan giving a small scare for old time’s sake. But embracing the consistency of confident, driven and deliberate play,” political commentator Fasi Zaka wrote after the Green Shirts’ victory.
Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated the team on their win, terming their bowling “outstanding”.
“A good team will analyse its mistakes when it loses. A great team does a thorough analysis of its game even when it wins,” the premier wrote.
Never one to miss an important cricket clash, President Arif Alvi hailed Haris Rauf’s bowling and Asif Ali’s sixes-laced knock towards the end.
“Outstanding my dear Green Shirts. You continue with your winning spree and took [out] your disappointment of NZ cancelled tour on the ground,” he wrote.