Pakistan rode onto a brilliant century from Babar Azam to keep their hopes of making it to the semifinal alive beating New Zealand by six wickets at Edgbaston in the ongoing ICC World Cup 2019. Meanwhile, during his century-run knock, Babar leapfrogged Indian skipper Virat Kohli in the list of fastest to 10 ODI hundred.
Babar breaks Kohli’s record
Mohammad Amir and Shahen Afridi ran havoc after New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson won the toss and opted to bat first. Amir provided the initial breakthrough removing out-of-form Martin Guptill before Afridi joined the party. The young fast bowler used the angle to great effect to fox Ross Taylor after getting the better of Colin Munro to make his presence felt at the Edgbaston. Tom Latham also followed the suit soon giving Afridi his third wicket.
Since then, Kane Williamson partnered with James Neesham to initiate the revival. They failed to get going as the Pakistan bowlers dominated the game to control the scoreboard. While many thought that Williamson was in line to score his third consecutive century Shadab Khan got rid of the dangerous looking Kiwi skipper. Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme staged a 100+ run stand to help New Zealand post 237 runs in their 50 overs.
Pakistan also faced some early troubles during their chase. Openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq got out cheaply as New Zealand look to bounce back. But Babar Azam held the stead from one end to steer his side to winning total. He first then staged a partnership with veteran Mohammad Hafeez and then added 126 runs with Haris Sohail to keep their hopes alive in the tournament. Azam remained unbeaten on 101 runs to give Pakistan their third win of the competition.
Meanwhile, with this hundred, Babar Azam brought his 10th ODI century and thus became the third fastest to achieve the feat. The Pakistan batsman who registered the landmark in 72 innings leapfrogged Virat Kohli (80) and Shikhar Dhawan (77) in the list of top five batsmen to fastest centuries. South African duo of Quinton de Kock (55) and Hashim Amla (57) sits ahead of Babar in the chart.
Babar Azam will have to keep up this swashbuckling form and help Pakistan win their remaining matches to make it to the top-four of the World Cup.