Rizwan and Fakhar help Pakistan draw level with Ireland

by 24britishtvMay 12, 2024, 9 p.m. 24
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For a little over half the game, Ireland held on to the hope of sealing a famous series win. But a crushing onslaught from Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman , who combined for a 140-run stand off 78 balls for the third wicket, helped Pakistan win the second T20I in Dublin by seven wickets and 19 balls to spare. Fakhar smashed 78 off 40, while Rizwan was unbeaten on 75 off 46, as Azam Khan ended the match with a flurry for sixes to level the series 1-1.

Zaman joined Rizwan after the openers fell cheaply. Saim Ayub's dry run continued, caught by a diving Curtis Campher third ball, while Babar nicked a harmless medium-pace delivery from Graham Hume in the following over to leave Pakistan 13 for 2 in a chase of 194.

But Rizwan, who has been demoted in Ayub's favour of late, demonstrated his value in the powerplay by combining dazzling slog sweeps with judicious placement. He bore the bulk of the run-scoring load until Zaman bedded in. Zaman dispatched Craig Young over square leg in the fifth over, and aside from a pair of costly drops, Pakistan were not troubled.

There was a brief slowdown after the seventh over, but in the absence of Ireland's ability to break through, Pakistan's position grew stronger. It was the 13th over when the game moved irrevocably out of Ireland's hands, as Pakistan plundered 21 off Young, plunging the asking rate from 10 to 8.4. There was even time, after Zaman holed out, for a whirlwind Azam cameo of 30 off 10 balls.

The greater concern, after Pakistan failed to defend 183 in the first T20I, was another inconsistent bowling performance. Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Amir were expensive and Pakistan were unable to contain Ireland in the Powerplay. Lorcan Tucker's 34-ball 51 strung the first half of Ireland's innings together, while Campher punished Shaheen through the middle overs once more. Each of the hosts' top seven managed double figures, and all but two achieved strike rates of 150 or more, resulting in a first-innings score Pakistan's bowlers will feel they are too good to have permitted on this surface.

Shaheen Afridi is famed for being lethal with the new ball, while Amir is prized for his variations at the death. The left-arm pace duo opened the bowling as well as closed it out, and found themselves punished at each stage. Shaheen was among the wickets but that did not spare him from an onslaught as Andy Balbirnie and Paul Stirling went on the attack in the Powerplay. Shaheen got his own back when he dismissed both players in his second over, but didn't quite learn his lesson from bowling to Campher in the first game.

In the 15th over, Shaheen kept fine leg up while bowling at Campher's body only to be put away for a four and a six. A belated decision to push the fielder back allowed Campher to predict the fuller delivery, driving him beautifully in front of cover for another six, before hitting a boundary to complete the 21-run over.

After Ireland scored 68 for 2 in seven overs, Pakistan turned to spin with the field spread. It is where Imad Wasim excels in slowing down the opposition. Harry Tector struggled for rhythm and Lorcan Tucker nudged him around. They showed little ambition against part-timer Ayub as Ireland scored 16 in three overs and Pakistan regained some control.

Hume's day had begun well enough. He removed Babar in the second over of Ireland's defence, but then made two costly mistakes just when Rizwan and Zaman were whirring into motion. He dropped Rizwan at deep midwicket off the last delivery of the powerplay, and then five balls later put down a top edge from Zaman at fine leg. Ireland had let slip their shot at sealing a historic series win, and Rizwan and Zaman's century stand took the series into a decider on Tuesday.

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