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Azam and Rizwan’s record-breaking stand dissected

Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan’s 152-run partnership for Pakistan was not just a match-winning stand, but also the biggest opening partnership in the history of the Men’s T20 World Cup and Pakistan’s second-biggest partnership in a T20I for any wicket.

Azam and Rizwan’s combined efforts overtook Chris Gayle and Devon Smith’s 145 against South Africa in 2007 as the top opening stand in Men’s T20 World Cups.

TOP FIVE MEN’S T20 WORLD CUP OPENING STANDS

PairRunsFixture
Babar Aazam, Mohammad Rizwan (Pakistan)152*vs India, 24 October 2021
Chris Gayle, Devon Smith (West Indies)145vs South Africa, 11 September 2007
Kamran Akmal, Salman Butt (Pakistan)142vs Bangladesh, 1 May 2010
Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag  (India)136vs England, 19 September 2007
Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle (West Indies)133vs Australia, 6 June 2009
David Warner, Shane Watson (Australia)133vs India, 28 September 2012

Here, we break down how the Pakistani batters produced their historic knock.

With 152 runs to chase, Rizwan got the reply off to the perfect start, flicking a four off the second ball of the innings from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, which Varun Chakravarthy couldn’t quite keep inside the rope at mid-in, before crunching a six over deep square off the next delivery.

The early boundaries took the scoring pressure off the pair, and they settled into the innings with plenty of singles and well-run twos, not finding the rope in five of the first eight overs. But whenever the pair did find the boundary it was almost always in sumptuous style.

The required run rate was beginning to creep up when Ravindra Jadeja bowled out a stingy 12th over.

But Babar responded with a huge next set of six deliveries, clearing the ropes twice as Chakravarthy went for 16 off the over and the Pakistan skipper brought up his 21st T20I half-century off 40 balls.

Not to be outdone by his classy captain, Rizwan brought up his own 41-ball half-century 10 deliveries later, pulling Jaspit Bumrah to the fence for four.

The runs continued to flow, and Rizwan made sure there was no nervy finish when he tore into Mohammad Shami in the 18th over, flicking a full-toss for six off the first ball of the over before registering back-to-back fours, putting Pakistan on the brink of their first-ever World Cup win over India.

And it was the captain who finished it, clipping Shami to long-on as the winning runs fittingly came from a well-run two.

It was a partnership of the absolute highest quality, coming in both players’ T20 World Cup debuts, with neither having made the Pakistan squad five years ago.

Babar is now just seven runs shy of leapfrogging David Warner to become the ninth highest run-scorer in men’s T20 international cricket, with the Australian having played 20 more matches. And the Pakistan captain’s current average of 48.34 in T20 internationals is the third-best ever seen in the game.

The only players above him in that list were also both playing in Dubai on Sunday. His opposing skipper Virat Kohli, tops the list with an average of 52.72, while Rizwan’s 79* took his career average up to 52. However, the early stages of Rizwan’s career impact on those numbers. In the 18 T20 internationals since he moved up to open, the 29-year-old has scored 959 runs at an extraordinary average of 87.18.

Speaking after the match, Azam explained how he and his partner approached the record run-chase.

“The plan with Rizwan is always to keep it simple,” he said. “We tried to get deep in the crease and from about the eighth over the dew came in and the ball came on nicely.

“This is just the start, we have the confidence to build on now. It will remain match by match for us.

“The pressure on us wasn’t that much – we weren’t thinking of the record against India at all. I only wanted to back all our players who’ve been preparing well.”

Azam and Rizwan’s 152 is the second biggest partnership for any wicket in Men’s T20 World Cup history, 14 runs shy of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene’s extraordinary 166 against West Indies in 2010.

The partnership is also the biggest for any wicket in a T20I against India, and consigned India to their first-ever ten-wicket defeat in T20s.

If the duo can carry on this form, Pakistan will be hard to beat this tournament.

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