Shadab Khan has produced a miracle with both bat and ball to keep Pakistan’s World Cup dreams alive. Pakistan were able to defeat favourites South Africa in a rain-affected game by 33 runs.
Entering the crease in the 14th over, Shadab was able to build a 82-run partnership with Iftikhar Ahmed. Lifting the spirit of the fans in the stadium, he took apart every single one of South Africa’s bowlers along with Iftikhar.
The two wreaked havoc at the crease, nailing boundaries all over the ground. Due to the early loss of openers Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam, it looked as if Pakistan’s World Cup campaign had come to a close.
The partnership allowed Pakistan to reach a competitive total of 185 runs. Iftikhar ended with 51 runs off 35 balls with three fours and two sixes. This included a devastating six that came in at 106 metres.
Shadab outdid his partner by one run, and was able to do it off only 22 deliveries. His innings included three fours and four sixes.
“I’ve done well in PSL with the bat, but international, definitely this is my best inning,” Shadab said post-match.
“I think credit goes to [Mohammad] Nawaz and Iftikhar [Ahmed]. They played brilliantly, and they put pressure on the bowlers. When I go [in], it’s a little bit easier.”
Coming into the game, Shadab averaged 19.00 runs in T20 internationals. The useful lower-order batter has always managed to make an immediate impact, which is shown by his career strike-rate of 143.84.
There has been continuous talks on moving Shadab higher up the order. If his batting form continues, he may move up to number four or five.
Looking back on the game, captain Babar Azam will be disappointed on the way he played. Coming into the World Cup, he was number three in the T20I batting rankings. Since the tournament began, he has only been able to average 3.50 runs a game in four innings.
Against South Africa, Babar looked helpless in the middle. He was undone completely several times and struggled to get bat on ball. If Pakistan reach the finals, Babar will need to be a key component of the team.
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Shadab continued his marvellous game into the bowling innings. Needing a breakthrough, captain Babar Azam handed him the ball. What happened next was a bowling masterclass.
As rain started to drizzle down onto the field, Pakistan needed a wicket to improve their DLS score. Starting slowly, Temba Bavuma and Aiden Markram started to pick up the pace.
Bavuma chipped away a nice 36 off 18, while Markram was starting to bat more aggressively.
In his first ball, Shadab bowled a fantastic leg-break turning the ball away from off-stump. This caught a nick off Bavuma’s bat and ended in the hands of wicket-keeper Rizwan.
Two balls later, and another leg-break he got Markram stumbling on his feet, taking the wickets out of the ground. The ball skidded past the inside edge of Markram’s bat, as he completely misjudged the delivery.
These important wickets caused the Proteas to have two new batters at the crease. Chasing a high total, this over was the turning point in the game.
Shadab believes playing in the Big Bash League for the Sydney Sixers in 2017 helped him adjust to the conditions.
“You get experience from that. I played Big Bash in 2017,” Shadab said.
“When you bowl in these tournaments, you get more experience. I think that’s helped me a lot.”
Due to the rain delay, South Africa needed 73 runs off five overs. Fast bowlers Shaheen Afridi and Naseem Shah rounded out the innings, delivering great line and length. Afridi ended with figures of 3/14 while Naseem took 1/19.
Pakistan now moves to third spot on the table in Group B with one game remaining. To advance into the finals, the nation needs India and South Africa to lose whilst also defeating Bangladesh in its next match.
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