Babar Azam set the tone by scoring his fourth half-century, while the other batsmen rallied around him to help Pakistan win their fifth match. Previously, it was Mohammad Rizwan or Asif Ali who set off the pyrotechnics while Babar held up one end, but this time it was their two most experienced batters who kept the Sharjah audience delighted.
Shoaib Malik smashed an undefeated 54 off 18 balls. Mohammad Hafeez racked up 31 in 19. After their batting took Pakistan to 189, another outstanding bowling performance helped them overcome Scotland by 72 runs to book a semi-final date with Australia after being the only side in the group stage to win all of their games.
It makes no difference if the scoring is difficult. On a two-paced surface, Babar will find a way to score runs. Despite his low strike rate, he chose his boundary balls wisely. Even though Rizwan and Fakhar combined for just 21 runs in 30 balls, Pakistan remained in the game. Babar blasted two sixes off-spinners Tahir and Watt after reaching his fifty in 40 balls, showing the first hints of Pakistan shifting gears to compensate for a poor start.
Scotland elected to close the innings in the 20th over with legspinner Chris Greaves and it was easy pickings for Malik. Malik feasted on Greaves after Asif eked out three runs off the opening two balls. Malik helped Pakistan score 26 in the last over to not only achieve the competition’s joint-fastest fifty (in 18 balls) but also to set Scotland an implausible 190-run target to win.
Pakistan had the luxury of attacking with the new ball with so many runs to protect. They gave up 19 runs in the first three overs, but the infielders provided plenty of oohs and aahs as the Scotland openers battled with their timing. Scotland was scoring at only four per over after six overs thanks to tidy overs from Imad Wasim, Haris Rauf, and Hasan Ali to close out the powerplay.
Berrington’s half-century took 34 balls, but he was the only Scotland batsman who could command the pace of the bowling. Other than that, none of Scotland’s batters had a strike rate of more than 100, and while they weren’t all out, they were thoroughly defeated by a team that is increasing in prominence by leaps and bounds now that the World Cup title is in their sights.
Pakistan had five victories and five different Player of the Match accolades. And there isn’t any for Babar Azam. Making the semis was truly a team effort.