Afridi lauds 'world class' Babar and Rizwan as Pakistan win Ireland series

By Sports Desk May 14, 2024

Shaheen Afridi lauded Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan as "world class" after the pair guided Pakistan to a T20I series victory over Ireland on Tuesday.

Babar's side were defeated in the first meeting with Ireland last week but responded with two convincing chases to secure a 2-1 triumph.

Ireland captain Lorcan Tucker's 73 helped his side to set a target of 179 in the winner-takes-all-decider, but Pakistan had little trouble in easing to a six-wicket victory with 18 balls to spare.

Rizwan, who managed an unbeaten 75 in the second meeting, crafted a well-made 56, while Babar carried Pakistan to within touching distance after his 42-ball 75.

Big-hitter Azam Khan blasted 18 off just six deliveries to see the visitors over the line, though Afridi was quick to credit the work of the two experienced Pakistan campaigners.

"For us, before the World Cup, it's important to have these games to ready ourselves and there are a few areas to improve," said Afridi, who impressed with 3-14 in the first innings. 

"They're both world-class players [Babar and Rizwan]; they know how to play their role and they have done really well on this pitch."

Babar bludgeoned four of his five sixes off Ben White's bowling in the 14th over, while sharing 139 runs with the in-form Rizwan for the second wicket.

"We had good communication in the middle because we have played a lot of cricket together; we were trying to play on our strengths and the aim was to match with the run rate," Babar added.

"Lots of positives for us to take and we were able to execute our plans.

"We have a big tournament coming up and this is good practice; we are now looking forward to the England series."

Mark Adair was the only Ireland bowler to impress with his economical 3-28, though Tucker was still satisfied with his side's efforts.

"It was brilliant and a great privilege to captain," Tucker said at the post-match presentation. "It would have been nice to start with a win.

"We set up a platform nicely but unfortunately, we couldn't finish well. We gave everyone a go with the ball. Credit to the lads, they bowled well in tough conditions.

"Maybe it was a bit disappointing with the result but we had positives from the series."

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