In a prelude to the ODI World Cup 2023, Pakistan and New Zealand clashed on the field at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. The Pakistani skipper, Babar Azam, had the privilege of winning the coin toss and opted to take the first innings.
Regrettably, this choice didn’t appear to be a wise one, as the opening duo of Abdullah Shafique (14 runs off 25 balls) and Imam-ul-Haq (1 run off 10 balls) fell back to the pavilion with a mere 46 runs on the scoreboard after just 11.2 overs.
Captain Babar Azam made his appearance at the crease during the third over, and alongside Mohammad Rizwan, he managed to steady the ship with a formidable partnership. However, amidst his brilliant innings, a comical incident unfolded.
Babar gently played a delivery from one of the spinners, only to see the ball roll back perilously close to his stumps. In a moment of quick thinking, the 28-year-old attempted to halt the ball’s progress with his shoe, but it continued its journey undeterred.
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Amusingly, Babar kept a vigilant eye on the ball, tracking its path until it reached the wicketkeeper, Tom Latham. This bizarre moment left everyone, including Babar and Latham, in fits of laughter.
Nevertheless, Babar went on to deliver a splendid performance, amassing 80 runs from 84 deliveries, featuring eight fours and two sixes. He and Mohammad Rizwan orchestrated a remarkable 114-run partnership off 110 balls, which served to stabilize Pakistan’s innings after the early setbacks.
Babar’s superb innings came to a close in a dramatic fashion, thanks to an outstanding catch by Daryl Mitchell. On the fourth delivery of the 30th over bowled by Mitchell Santer, Babar miscued a slog sweep, sending the ball soaring towards long on. In a remarkable display of athleticism, Mitchell, sprinting in from the boundary, reached the ball and executed a sensational diving catch to his right.
Meanwhile, Pakistan concluded their innings with a total of 345/5 in their allotted 50 overs, with Mohammad Rizwan leading the scoring charts with his impressive 103 runs from 94 balls. Saud Shakeel also made a notable contribution with his counter-attacking knock of 75 runs from 53 balls towards the end of the innings.