Babar's innings one of the best I've seen, says Sarfraz

By Sports Desk June 26, 2019

Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed hailed centurion Babar Azam and Haris Sohail for producing "some of the finest batting I've ever seen" as they kept Pakistan's Cricket World Cup hopes alive by securing a six-wicket win over New Zealand.

Needing victory on Wednesday to maintain any realistic hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals, Sarfraz's side delivered the goods to spark scenes of jubilation within an Edgbaston crowd made up almost entirely of Pakistan supporters.

After Shaheen Afridi (3-28) had played a key role in limiting the Black Caps to 237-6 on a tricky surface, the 1992 world champions were wobbling on 110-3 but eventually won comfortably thanks to Babar's sublime 101 not out and 68 from Sohail.

"Whenever a Pakistan team plays the way we do today it is down to a great team effort," said Sarfraz in the post-match presentation. "All the bowlers bowled really well and Babar and Haris was some of the finest batting I've ever seen.

"Two-forty is not an easy target. Credit goes to Babar, the way he batted today, for me I think he played one of the best innings I've ever seen. Credit goes to Haris too for the way he handled the pressure. It is not easy. He played really well."

Remarkably, Pakistan have now enjoyed precisely the same sequence of results they registered at the World Cup 27 years ago, when they recovered from a dismal start to claim a memorable triumph under inspirational skipper Imran Khan.

They now sit just one point behind fourth-placed England, with games against winless Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who sit fifth, to come.

"We're not thinking about the '92 World Cup," said Sarfraz. "We're going match by match. As a team we are very confident."

All-rounders Jimmy Neesham (97 not out) and Colin de Grandhomme (64) kept New Zealand in the game after they had slumped to 46-4 and 83-5, but skipper Kane Williamson acknowledged his side deserved their first loss of the tournament.

"On a tough surface we were outplayed by a very strong Pakistan side," he said.

The Black Caps' decision to leave out Ish Sodhi, their second frontline spinner, looked to be a serious misjudgement given the turn on offer at Edgbaston.

Williamson's own part-time off-spin was utilised for eight overs, the captain having not bowled in New Zealand's previous 12 ODIs, while Mitchell Santner posed plenty of problems despite finishing without a wicket.

"Especially when the wicket became a lot slower, it was still turning square," Williamson added. "We were trying to get anyone in there that would turn the ball."

Related items

  • Rugby World Cup 2019: All Blacks boss Hansen condemns 'pretty obvious' Erasmus referee tactics Rugby World Cup 2019: All Blacks boss Hansen condemns 'pretty obvious' Erasmus referee tactics

    New Zealand coach Steve Hansen claims rival boss Rassie Erasmus was wrong to question standards of Test refereeing ahead of South Africa's Rugby World Cup opener.

    The All Blacks face the Springboks in the first match of their title defence, yet the build-up to a mammoth clash between the world champions and Rugby Championship winners has been overshadowed by Erasmus' criticism of the officiating.

    The South Africa boss claimed it is a "well-known fact" that New Zealand have in the past received preferential treatment from referees.

    Hansen feels Erasmus has blatantly attempted to put pressure on Jerome Garces, Saturday's man in the middle, and suggested both teams would benefit from letting the referee get on with his job.

    "It's pretty obvious what they're trying to do and, while I've got a lot of respect for South Africa and particularly Rassie, I think he's a great coach, I don't agree with what he's doing," Hansen told reporters.

    "He's trying to put pressure on referees externally and they're under enough pressure already. They don't need us coaches doing what he's doing.

    "It doesn't matter who your ref is. As a coach or a team, you can always find things after the game that they didn't do and you can get emotional about that and think that they're picking on you and not on the opposition. We've done it ourselves.

    "At the end of the day, they try to do the best they can do. Yes, they don't always get it right all the time and we've suffered from that just like other teams have.

    "It's a big game, we just need to let the ref get on with it and prepare for it himself."

    He added of the officials' ability to cope with the pressure: "They're not stupid people, so you'd hope [they can deal with it]."

    Garces has run the rule over five previous Tests between New Zealand and South Africa - each of them All Blacks wins - sending off Springboks centre Damian de Allende in 2017.

    However, the French referee also dismissed Scott Barrett for the All Blacks against Australia last month.

    Barrett said ahead of meeting Garces again: "There's obviously a fine line and I've learned from that and am keen to move on.

    "The laws are there for a reason, to protect players and player welfare, and I've been working hard and keen to address that. We've had the briefing and we're well aware how they'll be reffing high shots and foul play."

  • Rugby World Cup 2019: Barrett named at full-back in experienced All Blacks team to face Springboks Rugby World Cup 2019: Barrett named at full-back in experienced All Blacks team to face Springboks

    The All Blacks have named an experienced line-up for their Rugby World Cup blockbuster against South Africa on Saturday.

    Beauden Barrett, a star at fly-half, will start at full-back for the two-time defending champions when they open their campaign against the Springboks in Yokohama in Pool B.

    New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen talked up his team, including what he believes is a strong ability to have impact off the bench.

    "Any combination of players in our squad could have justified their selection, but in the end we believe the 23 we have selected is the right group for this opposition," he said on Thursday.

    "In today's rugby environment, you need to have the mindset that it's not just about who starts, it's also about what the players coming off the bench can provide. As an example, we have a great one-two punch with Dane [Coles] and Codie [Taylor] at hooker and Aaron [Smith] and TJ [Perenara] at half-back."

    While 12 players are set for their Rugby World Cup debuts, the All Blacks' team includes a total of 1,061 Tests in experience.

    Hansen has been happy with his team's preparation ahead of a tough opening game against the Springboks.

    "Since transferring from our camp in Kashiwa to Tokyo we have moved into Test match mode this week and our focus has been building throughout the week," he said.

    "We've had a very good week's training in the heat and rain here in Tokyo, the facilities have been excellent and our Japanese hosts have been outstanding."

    Hansen added: "The challenge of playing one of our oldest and most respected foes in the opening Test of RWC2019 has us excited and energised by what lies ahead. Each time we play South Africa, it's a tight battle and a real arm wrestle.

    "To perform at our very best, we'll have to play with real clarity, intent, energy and clear heads. Both teams will have their moments and it'll be our job to ensure we limit theirs and take full opportunity of ours."

    New Zealand: Beauden Barrett, Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Aaron Smith; Joe Moody, Dane Coles, Nepo Laulala, Samuel Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Ardie Savea, Sam Cane, Kieran Read.
    Replacements: Codie Taylor, Ofa Tuungafasi, Angus Ta'avao, Patrick Tuipulotu, Shannon Frizell, TJ Perenara, Sonny Bill Williams, Ben Smith.

  • Warriors hand Tallawahs third home loss Warriors hand Tallawahs third home loss

    The Jamaica Tallawahs brief turnaround was cut short by the Guyana Amazon Warriors who became the lastest team to pillage a struggling bowling attack in an 81-run win at Sabina Park on Wednesday.

    Sent in to bat, a combination of the big-hitting Brandon King, Shimron Hetmyer and Shoab Malik powered the Warriors to their highest total ever recorded in the CPL, after posting 218 for 6.  The achievement has become a familiar sight at Sabina Park, now associated with playing the Tallawahs three times already this season.

     Things did, however, begin brightly for the Jamaican-based franchise as opening batsman Chanderpaul Hemraj was gobbled up by wicketkeeper Glenn Phillips off the bowling of Jade Dernbach for just one ball.

    Hetmyer was, however, determined not to let the bowling line-up build on their early success.  His blistering 44 came from just 25 balls, before being bowled by Dwayne Smith.  With Hetmyer gone, King accelerated the scoring going on to crack 59 off 37, his innings consisting of 6 sixes. 

    King was eventually caught in the deep by Chadwick Walton off the bowling of Ramal Lewis.  Nicholas Pooran then added a steady 20 from 11 deliveries but it was Malik who continued to do real damage, his classy and unbeaten 67 coming from just 37 deliveries.

    In response, the host’s expectation of any big runs chase was bound to hinge on a massive contribution at the crease from talisman Gayle.  That hope faded quickly, however, after the veteran T20 star hit a massive six off Imran Tahir but caught the very next delivery for just 7 runs.

    Replacing Gayle, Chadwick Walton played a few enterprising shots but was also eventually caught, by Qais Ahmad also off the bowling of Tahir.  Andre Russell joined the industrious Glenn Phillips at the crease to provide a glimmer of hope for the Tallawahs as the two combined for 60 runs.  When Russell was caught at extra cover, for 40, looking to dispatch with Odean Smith the writing was officially on the wall for the hosts. 

    Phillips’ innings came to an end soon after when he was caught by Pooran off the bowling of Keemo Paul.  The team continued to lose wickets in a steady possession, eventually all out for 137.  The Tallawahs have now won one of their first six matches, including three home losses.

     

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.