Babar Azam opens up on loss against New Zealand in third T20I

In a candid reflection on Pakistan’s loss against New Zealand in the third T20I, skipper Babar Azam lamented the team’s inability to achieve a sufficient run total to defend successfully.

“I don’t think it [slow run-rate during the middle overs] made much of a difference because we had caught up. You can say we were 10 runs short,” Babar shared during the post-match ceremony.

“Unfortunately, we had a bit of a setback with Rizwan [injury] because it wasn’t easy for new batsmen but I think Shadab [Khan] recovered well and had an outstanding partnership with Irfan. In Pindi, 180-190 is a par score. In batting, we did well,” the skipper added.

Babar’s comments followed Pakistan’s posting of a 179-run target, after being put to bat first at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.

However, the Black Caps staged a remarkable comeback in the five-match T20I series, led by Mark Chapman, securing a seven-wicket victory in the third match at the Pindi Cricket Stadium.

New Zealand’s strong start to the chase saw openers Tim Robinson (28) and Tim Seifert (21) setting the tone with a 42-run partnership for the first wicket.

Despite Pakistan’s efforts to regain momentum with consecutive dismissals by Naseem Shah and Abbas Afridi, Chapman, alongside Dean Foxcroft, thwarted their plans.

With the five-match series now leveled at 1-1, the upcoming matches on April 25 and 27 at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium promise to be crucial encounters.

In the earlier innings for Pakistan, the opening pair of Saim Ayub and Babar Azam provided a solid start with 54/0. However, Saim’s dismissal for 32 off 22 balls and Babar’s departure for 37 off 29 deliveries hindered Pakistan’s momentum.

Mohammad Rizwan’s unfortunate injury led to his retirement after scoring 23 runs from 22 balls, with Irfan Khan stepping in as his replacement.

Despite Usman Khan’s early dismissal for 4 runs from 6 balls, Irfan and all-rounder Shadab Khan revitalized Pakistan’s innings with an explosive partnership. Shadab’s aggressive 41 off 20 balls, coupled with Irfan’s brisk 30 off 20, injected momentum into Pakistan’s innings.