After winning the toss, it was a shock when Pakistan skipper Babar Azam opted to bat first, in Abu Dhabi where teams prefer chasing. However, the 27-year-old was confident of the decision, adding that it would be a real test of their character heading into the semi-final stage of the T20 World Cup. And the conditions indeed proved to be tough for batters up front.
From 29-0 in six overs, Pakistan amassed 189 at the end of their innings, on the back of impressive knocks from openers, Babar and Mohammad Rizwan, scoring 70 and 79 respectively. Mohammad Hafeez, who walked out to bat at No.4, played a cameo, scoring 32 runs off just 16 balls.
Pakistan’s strong bowling attack meant that the second innings was a mere formality but even then, Namibia batters had tested the bowlers. In the post-match presentation, Babar admitted that the decision to bat first was to test their batting unit ahead of the crucial semi-final.
“It's really good, we're maintaining our winning momentum. We wanted to do things differently today, test our batting. Conditions were tough early on, they bowled well and we wanted to take the partnership deep. The way Hafeez batted and got into form, it was important for us as he is a key player,” Babar stated in the post-match presentation.
The Pakistan skipper also added that Hasan Ali operated with the new ball because of the conditions and insisted that they still have to improve on the fielding front.
“Hasan Ali was given the new ball as conditions were suitable. If you need to win tournaments, you need to be consistent across all departments. The fielding was a bit lax, there was dew, so that's an area to improve. Need to keep improving and irrespective of whom we face in the semifinal, we want to maintain the same intensity,” he added.
On the other hand, Player of the Match, Rizwan revealed that the conditions up front were a challenge for the two openers. In a similar approach with their run-chase against India, Pakistan openers took the game deep before attacking.
“It was difficult to bat initially and conditions proved to be very tricky for both of us (Me and Babar). Even when we tried to play normal shots or big hits, it just didn't work out and then we decided to take it deep and attack at the end.”
Rizwan also credited the Namibian bowlers for their incredible consistency and hailed the efforts of the veteran Hafeez, who swung the momentum of the encounter in Pakistan’s favour with the late blows.
“But that said, I want to give the credit to the (Namibia) bowlers because they kept bowling in the same area at the start and bowled really well. Hafeez's innings gave us the momentum and he kept telling me to stay patient and in the last over I decided to go hard and got some useful runs. We are gelling well as a team and have ticked all the boxes and will see what lies ahead for us,” he concluded.