KARACHI: Pakistan came one step closer to a whitewash against Sri Lanka after Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik guided them to a victory in a low run-chase on Friday to gain a 4-0 lead in the five-match ODI series, and wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal thinks the former has become everyone’s favourite player.
Hasan Ali, who soared to the first spot in bowler’s ODI rankings on Friday, displayed his prowess once again with a three-wicket haul to send the visitors packing on 173 runs.
In their chase, Pakistan lost openers Fakhar Zaman, Imamul Haq and two-down Mohammad Hafeez for low scores, but Babar (69 not out) and Malik (69 not out) then partnered up for the fourth wicket to guide the team past the finish line.
“Babar has always performed for the team and has been playing match-winning innings for the team in this ODI series,” said Kamran. “He scored runs when the team was in need. After scoring two centuries in the first two ODIs he has become everyone’s favourite player in the series.”
Kamran then praised Babar’s ability to bounce back after he was unable to play a meaningful innings for the team in the third ODI.
“You can see how good and smart Babar is after he came back from a 30-run innings in the third ODI and helped Pakistan win the fourth match with a stronger approach and a resolute presence on the pitch,” he said. “Babar’s shot selection shows how confident he is and he will become one of the best batsmen for Pakistan.”
‘Malik’s experience handy for Pakistan’
Malik, Babar’s partner on Friday, has been living up to the role of a finisher in the team since he was assigned that job by head coach Mickey Arthur, and Kamran thinks veteran’s experience always comes in handy for Pakistan.
“Malik has experience and he knows how to pace his innings. He stayed on the crease with Babar and scored runs for the team to win their fourth consecutive ODI,” he added.
Hasan is a consistent performer: Razzaq
Hasan’s ability with the ball proved why he rose to the first spot in the rankings, dethroning South Africa’s Imran Tahir, and former Pakistan all-rounder Abdul Razzaq believes it is the right-arm pacer’s consistency which is bringing accolades for him.
“Hasan has become number one bowler which is a great achievement and as he said, it was his dream,” said Razzaq. “He is a consistent performer and has a bright future. The way he bowled in Tests and now in ODIs, I think he is a bowler who can earn many victories to Pakistan.”
Razzaq then praised the mix of youth and experience in Pakistan’s ODI team, saying that youngsters need to gain as much experience as they can.
“Right now Pakistan’s ODI team is strong because they have big names and young energetic players who will help the team rise up in rankings. Usman Shinwari bowled beautifully on his debut but still he lacks experience, which he will get if he keeps getting chances. Same goes for Inamul Haq who scored a century in first match but couldn’t handle the pressure in the second match and lost his wicket,” concluded Razzaq.