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Babar and Hafeez

Bowlers, Babar, Hafeez star in Pakistan's series clinching win

Pak v Ban, 2nd T20I, report

Pakistan bowlers restricted Bangladesh to a modest 136/6, before unbeaten fifties from skipper Babar Azam and Mohammad Hafeez powered them to a comfortable nine-wicket win in the second T20I at Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium on Saturday, 25 January.

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This is Pakistan's first T20I series win since their 3-0 sweep against New Zealand in the UAE in October 2018, after which they had lost eight of the nine completed games, including three on the trot against Sri Lanka at home three months ago.

The hosts lost their opener, Ahsan Ali, early in the chase, who was undone by the mounting pressure early on and eventually perished for a seven-ball duck to Shafiul Islam. However, Babar (66*), who had a rare failure in the series opener, batted with oozing positivity early on, to set the tone. The top-ranked batsman in the MRF Tyres ICC T20I Rankings showed his class right from the start and raced to 23 off 11 by the end of the Power Play, which allowed the No.3 Mohammad Hafeez to play himself in.

Hafeez (67*), who had consumed 19 balls for his first 12 runs soon found his touch and eventually raced to his fifty in the 13th over with a single down to third man, which was preceded with back-to-back fours. Babar followed the suit next over, dispatching a short-pitched one from Mustafizur Rehman over the on-side boundary, before getting to his half-century with a single off the next ball.

The pair took 29 off the next 2.4 overs, and the unbeaten 131-run stand took Pakistan home with 20 balls to spare. Both smashed a six each, while Hafeez led the fours count with nine hits to Babar's seven.

Earlier, Bangladesh didn't have the best of starts after skipper Mahmudullah opted to bat. Shaheen Afridi produced an absolute peach to remove Mohammad Naim for a first-ball duck, while Mahedi Hasan and keeper-batsman Liton Das fell to Mohammad Hasnain and Shadab Khan respectively. The innings got some stability from Tamim Iqbal, who top-scored with 65 and added some useful runs with Afif Hossain (21) and Mahmudullah (12) in the middle overs.

Tamim and Mahmudullah collected 14 runs from the 16th over, and looked set to take the visitors close to the 150-run mark. However, the former lost his wicket to a run-out for the second straight time in the series, and that dented the progress, allowing Bangladesh to finish at mere 136/6.

With back-to-back wins, Pakistan have pocketed the three-match series, with a game still to be played at the same venue on Monday, 27 January.

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