Pakistan captain Babar Azam ran onto the pitch to embrace Mohammad Rizwan as the keeper-batter’s unbeaten 131 propelled them to a record win over Sri Lanka in the 2023 World Cup on Tuesday in Hyderabad.
Babar looked relieved and overjoyed as Pakistan made two wins out of as many games in a dream start to the mega tournament.
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The Men in Green didn’t have a good outing with the ball, leaking 344 runs as Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama smashed centuries. However, they bounced back in the death as Sri Lanka managed only 27 in the final five overs and lost four wickets, including two in the 50th bowled by Haris Rauf.
Pakistan’s run-chase didn’t start well either, losing Imam-ul-Haq and Babar within the initial 10 overs, leaving the middle-order to do the bulk of work.
The 1992 world champions roared back into the contest with a 176-run partnership between Abdullah Shafique and Rizwan, with the former perishing for 115. Despite suffering from some severe cramps, Rizwan didn’t leave the field and powered on.
He added another 95 with Saud Shakeel, while Iftikhar Ahmed provided the final flourish as Pakistan completed the highest successful run-chase in 50-over World Cup history.
“Every player in the dressing room had the belief” – Mohammad Rizwan
Speaking to the host broadcaster after the victory, Mohammad Rizwan rendered the performance as special and sarcastically labelled his cramps as occasional acting.
“Always proud when you perform like that,” he said. “It was difficult and when you chase like that, it’s always special. Every player in the dressing room had the belief we can chase that. Basically, it’s a good track and we decided to calculate the innings. Sometimes cramps, sometimes acting (laughs).”
The win was also Pakistan’s highest successful run-chase in World Cup history and extended their unbeaten record against Sri Lanka to 8-0. Babar Azam and his men will next face hosts India in Ahmedabad on October 14.