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Sydney Cricket Ground

Rain denies Australia after Babar Azam shines on captaincy debut

Aus v Pak, 1st T20I, report

Babar Azam, the No.1-ranked batsman on the MRF Tyres ICC T20I Batting Rankings, scored an unbeaten 38-ball 59 in his first match after being appointed as Pakistan’s T20I captain, but rain had the final say on a wet Sunday, 3 November, as the first T20I ended in a no contest in Sydney.

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Babar almost single-handedly carried Pakistan to a fighting total in a match reduced to 15-overs-a-side, as his team put up 107/5 after being asked to bat. Set a revised target of 119, Australia were cruising at 41/0 in 3.1 overs, with captain Aaron Finch having unleashed a series of boundaries, before inclement weather put an end to proceedings once and for all.

After a delayed start, with the showers making their first appearance after the toss, Mitchell Starc struck with the second ball of the match, taking a fuller ball away from the left-handed Fakhar Zaman, who chased it and popped a catch to backward point.

Pakistan’s batsmen had their share of luck despite the early loss, with uppish drives and edges finding the gaps. Kane Richardson struck in his first over – and the second of the match – when Haris Sohail swiped at him across the line and produced a top edge towards Steve Smith at backward point. On either side of the dismissal, Babar twice edged through the slips, and on both occasions, the ball made its way to the boundary.

More boundaries ensued as Pakistan attempted to offset the early losses, with leg-spinner Adam Zampa being taken apart for a four and a six off successive balls by Mohammad Rizwan. Pakistan ended the Powerplay at 38/2.

Babar Azam struck a half-century on captaincy debut
Babar Azam struck a half-century on captaincy debut

Together, Rizwan and Babar stitched together 60 for the third wicket, and by the time the association was ended, when Rizwan tried to take on left-arm spinner Ashton Agar and holed out to long-on, the lights had taken effect at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Zampa came in for more special treatment, as Babar and Asif Ali struck him for a four and a six respectively in the 13th over, before the first rain interruption, which lasted 80 minutes, slashed the number of overs by five.

Asif was dismissed seven balls after the resumption, but Babar continued to pick up boundaries through a combination of luck and finesse. He crunched a pull in front of square for six off Starc in the last over, to take Pakistan over the 100-run mark with two balls to spare in the innings.

In response, Finch teed away with two fours in the first five balls he faced, before he laid into Mohammad Irfan in the innings’ third over, crunching him for two sixes and as many fours in a 26-run over.

It meant that Australia went six runs over the DLS requirement at the end of the Powerplay within the first three overs itself. One ball later, the rain returned and brought all that down to moot.

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