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Recent Match Report – Pakistan vs Scotland 41st Match, Group 2 2021/22

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Pakistan 189 for 4 (Babar 66, Malik 54*) beat Scotland 117 for 6 (Berrington 54*, Shadab 2-14) by 72 runs

Like he has done all through the tournament, Babar Azam set anchor and scored his fourth half-century of the competition while other batters rallied around him to lift Pakistan to their fifth win of the competition. Previously it was Mohammad Rizwan or Asif Ali who brought out the fireworks while Babar held up one end, but on this occasion it was their two most experienced batters who entertained the Sharjah crowd.
Shoaib Malik, who made his international debut in 1999, smacked an unbeaten 54 in 18 balls. Mohammad Hafeez, who made his international debut in 2003, shellacked 31 in 19. And after their hitting lifted Pakistan to 189, another top bowling effort saw them defeat Scotland rather comfortably by 72 runs and seal a semi-final date with Australia after becoming the only team with a 100% win record in the group stage of the competition.

Babar makes it a habit

It doesn’t matter if the scoring is tough. Lesser mortals like Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman might struggle on a two-paced surface, but if you’re Babar, you will find a way to score runs. Although the strike-rate wasn’t high, he picked his boundary-balls smartly. Wide balls were smacked square through the off side, tossed up deliveries from slower bowlers were met with a skip down the track, and half-trackers were walloped off the back foot. That ensured Pakistan kept ticking along even though Rizwan and Fakhar combined to score just 21 runs in 30 balls.

After reaching his fifty in 40 balls, Babar smacked two sixes off the spinners Hamza Tahir and Mark Watt to show the first signs of Pakistan changing gears to make up for a slow start. Eventually he fell in the 18th over, but by then his strike-rate had bloomed to over 140 when he fell for 66.

Age just a number for Malik, Hafeez

At 60 for 2 after ten overs, Pakistan were definitely in an uncomfortable position. But Hafeez has begun to make his cameos a habit. Against Namibia, it was his 16-ball 32 that brought life into their innings, and on Sunday, it was his 19-ball 31 that not only boosted the run rate but also gave Babar a bit more freedom to play his shots.

Hafeez set the tone for his innings with a straight drive off Tahir before smacking part-timer Richie Berrington over extra cover. Then he tore into the pace of Safyaan Sharif, hitting him for a six and two fours in the space of four balls. And although Sharif dismissed Hafeez at the end of the 15th over, the wickets still in the hut meant Pakistan would only operate in top gear from there.

And that was the case with Malik’s innings. Watt bore the initial brunt of Malik’s aggression with two sixes in one over. Sharif was then dispatched over deep midwicket and long on with ease. Before the last over, Malik’s numbers were already impressive having made 32 in 14 balls. But there was still some fuel left in the tank.

For the 20th over, Scotland decided legspinner Chris Greaves – who had an economy of 5.67 after three overs – should finish the innings, and for Malik that was easy pickings. After Asif eked out three runs off the first two balls, Malik feasted on Greaves. First ball to Malik was pulled over the leg side, second ball was pulled for four through square leg, third ball was tonked over long on and the fourth ball was pulled in front of square. Malik helped Pakistan score 26 off the last over to not only reach the joint-fastest fifty (in 18 balls) of the competition, but also set Scotland an improbable 190 to win.

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WATCH - Pakistan win their fifth straight game

WATCH – Pakistan win their fifth straight game

Too much for Scotland to do

With those many runs to defend, Pakistan had the luxury of attacking with the new ball. They conceded 19 off the first three overs, but there were enough oohs and aahs from the infielders as the Scotland openers struggled with their timing. Tidy overs from Imad Wasim, Haris Rauf and Hasan Ali to close out the powerplay meant that Scotland were scoring at only four per over after six overs.

Hasan got the first Scotland wicket in the final powerplay over. Kyle Coetzer, struggling on 9, failed to pick his slower ball to hole out. The second Scottish wicket was a run of bad luck as Matthew Cross was caught napping at the non-striker’s end off a faint Wasim touch after George Munsey hit a straight smack. Two more fell in quick succession as Shadab Khan removed two batters just after the drinks break with two googlies. At 41 for 4 after 10.3 overs, the game was only going one way.

But Berrington did not want to wave the white flag just yet. Scotland’s only half-centurion in the tournament thus far added a second one to his tally by making an unbeaten 54. Hasan was struck over cover and midwicket, Shaheen’s delivery found the boundary too, Haris was swept smartly through backward square and Hasan was then smoked over long on. Berrington’s half-century came in 34 balls, but he was the only Scotland batter who could dictate the bowling. Otherwise, none of the other Scotland batters had a strike-rate of more than 100, and although they were not all out, they were well and truly beaten against a side growing in stature by leaps and bounds with the World Cup trophy now in their sights.

Record-setting day for Babar, Rizwan

Although Rizwan made 13, it was enough for him to become the man with the most T20 runs in a calendar year. He went past Chris Gayle’s 2015 tally of 1665 runs.

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx



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Travis Head wins the race to be Australia's No. 5 in the Ashes

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Mitchell Starc will complete the fast-bowling trio alongside Josh Hazlewood and captain Pat Cummins



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Mithali Raj – We have had ‘good preparation’ for 2022 World Cup by playing SA, England, Australia this year

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“We are getting to play in New Zealand before World Cup which is also good,” she says

India Women are scheduled to play only one ODI series – against New Zealand – before the World Cup early next year but captain Mithali Raj feels the team has had “good preparation” so far in 2021.
This year, India hosted South Africa for five ODIs before playing a three-match series in England and Australia each. They lost all three series but made Australia, the No. 1 team, work really hard for their 2-1 win and also ended their 26-match winning streak in the third ODI there.

India will play World Cup hosts New Zealand for five ODIs before the World Cup in March-April.

“We have played three best teams since March and it has given us good preparation,” Raj said after a partnership between KFC and Indian Deaf Cricket Association in Delhi on Wednesday. “Players have played domestic cricket and also in the Women’s Big Bash so they are getting game time which is the most important thing.

“We are getting to play in New Zealand before World Cup which is also good.”

India, who were unable to post 250-plus scores regularly earlier, did that twice in the Australia series and chased down 265 in the final ODI.

“When you play against a strong team in its backyard you try to give your best,” Raj said. “Though we lost the series, the matches were very close. We scored 270 (274) and chased 270-odd, if we can do that consistently we will be among the best sides in world cricket.”

India’s middle-order batting needs improvement but Raj said all departments must fire as a unit if they are to win the World Cup.

“We bat as a unit so you can’t pinpoint one area,” she said. “There are times when the top order failed and the others performed. As a unit if we look to post a good total then it will help. If we focus on one area like middle order then it becomes too much of a burden for that particular slot.”

India finished runners-up in the 2017 World Cup in England when not many expected them to but expectations will be higher this time.

“There were not enough expectations back then,” Raj said. “Now in 2021, players have got experience and got a lot of exposure with the T20 leagues. Overall we have young players but they have got enough exposure. It is just of matter of gelling well as a team.

“Every match will be different there. The quicker we read our opponents the better it will be for us.”



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The Ashes 2021-22 – Michael Vaughan stood down from BT Sport Ashes coverage after Azeem Rafiq allegations

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Channel to adopt a “hybrid” approach with Vaughan’s stints on Fox Sports to be overlaid

Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, will not be heard by UK audiences during this winter’s Ashes in Australia, after BT Sport followed the BBC’s decision to remove him from their TV coverage of the series.

Vaughan, 47, was last week stood down from BBC Test Match Special’s coverage for “editorial” reasons, following allegations from Azeem Rafiq, the former Yorkshire cricketer, that he had said “there are too many of you lot” following the selection of four players of Asian heritage in a county fixture in 2009.

Vaughan, who denies the allegations, apologised last week in an interview on BBC Breakfast for the “hurt” caused to Rafiq during his time as a player at Yorkshire, and will still be involved in this winter’s Ashes coverage through his commentary role with Fox Sports, the Australian host broadcaster.

However, BT Sport – who are due to take the Fox Sports feed after choosing not to send a bespoke commentary team to Australia – announced on Tuesday that they will be taking a “hybrid” approach to their coverage, with Vaughan’s on-air stints to be overlaid with studio analysis.

“As a result of Covid and travel restrictions BT Sport had made the decision to take our commentary feed from the Australian host broadcaster,” the channel said in a statement. “The recent report presented to UK Parliament uncovering institutional racism within cricket and specifically Yorkshire County Cricket Club is extremely disappointing and a concern for all.

“Given these recent events and the controversy with the situation we have taken the decision that including Michael Vaughan within our Ashes coverage would not be editorially appropriate or fit with BT Sport’s values. We are still finalising plans but we are assessing the option of taking a hybrid approach, using Fox commentary where possible with the aim of putting our own commentary team in place if necessary.”

Vaughan’s troubled build-up to the series continued on Tuesday, when he announced on Twitter that his arrival in Australia had been delayed by a week due to a positive Covid test. “[It] is frustrating,” he wrote. “But at least I’ll avoid the rain in Brisbane for a few days!”

However, his hopes of being retained by the BBC after the Ashes have received a boost, after the corporation confirmed that they had been in “regular contact” with Vaughan since his suspension, and had held “positive conversations with him in recent days”.

“Our contributors are required to talk about relevant issues, so Michael’s involvement in a story of such significance means it’s not possible for him to be part of our Ashes coverage or wider cricket coverage at the moment,” the statement added. “We’re pleased with how our conversations are going and expect to work with Michael again in the future. He remains on contract to the BBC.”

The BBC’s stance was criticised this week by his former England team-mate Monty Panesar, who wrote in a column in the Daily Telegraph: “This feels deeply unethical — a classic case of someone being tried and convicted without any form of due process being undertaken.”



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