Proud to have made history against India: Babar Azam

Pakistan captain Babar Azam on Monday stated that he and his players were “proud” to have made history by defeating India for the first time in a World Cup match.

Pakistan defeated their arch-rivals with a ten-wicket victory.

The win was Pakistan’s first in 13 World Cup matches (seven in the 50 over World Cup and six in the Twenty20 World Cup) dating back to 1992 in Australia.

“It is definitely a proud moment for me as well as for all my players that we have made history,” Babar stated in an exclusive interview.

Lanky paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi put India on the back foot from the start with the wickets of openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul off his first seven deliveries.

He finished with 3-31 after dismissing India’s top scorer, skipper Virat Kohli, for 57 in a total of 151-7 in 20 overs.

Babar along with fellow opener Mohammad Rizwan knocked off the target in 17.5 overs without losing a single wicket.

Babar hit 68 not out while Rizwan finished with an undefeated 79.

“We realise how important and how much needed that win is as everyone wanted us to win and to have made history is one of the defining moments in our careers,” Babar said.

“I had said before the match that records are meant to be broken so we have broken that jinx and we are very happy, in fact the whole country is happy and celebrating.” Babar said the ‘special’ match was as usual of high intensity.

“All of us know that when Pakistan plays India there is very high intensity and it’s a pressure game,” he said. “The whole world waits for this match, so it is a special match.”

Babar admitted the noise in the stadium made his task of arranging his fielders tough.

“The stadium was nearly packed,” said Babar of the Dubai stadium where a 70 per cent crowd was allowed in under relaxed Covid-19 restrictions.

“There was so much noise in the stadium that I found it tough to call my players, I told them to keep looking at me so that I can move the fielders in between overs.

“We have gelled well over the years so we are used to that. The response from the players was extraordinary. We got a head start in bowling when Shaheen got us wickets and then we batted as per our plan.”

This was Pakistan’s first ten wicket win in all Twenty20 internationals and the first defeat by this margin for India.

Babar said he had been part of two defeats against India, in the Junior World Cup in Australia in 2012 as skipper and then at the 2019 World Cup in England.

“I remember that we lost to India in the quarter finals of the Junior World Cup in 2012 so it was a much desired thing to beat India,” he said.

Babar said his team prepared well ahead of the tournament, despite New Zealand abandoning a tour due to a security alert last month without playing any of the eight limited over games scheduled.

England followed suit in withdrawing its men’s and women’s teams from touring ahead of the Twenty20 World Cup.

“We prepared well in the National Twenty20 in Pakistan,” Babar said. “Our plan was to keep things simple and through that we effected that turn around.”

Pakistan next plays New Zealand in Sharjah on Tuesday.

According to the official site for the T20 World Cup, Babar and Rizwan’s 152-run partnership was the biggest opening partnership in the history of the men’s T20 World Cup and Pakistan’s second-biggest partnership in a T20 International for any wicket.

Sunday’s explosive performance by the two cricketers overtook the previous record — 145 runs by West Indies’ Chris Gayle and Devon Smith against South Africa in 2007.

The third spot on the current ranking is also occupied by Pakistan, with Kamran Akmal and Salman Butt scoring 142 runs against Bangladesh in 2010.

“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,” the report said.

In addition, Babar 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 166 against West Indies in 2010, the report said.

The partnership is also the biggest for any wicket in a T20I against India, it added

A day earlier, Pakistan finally got the monkey off their back with a 10-wicket thumping of arch-rivals India but skipper Babar Azam refused to get carried away and reminded his jubilant team mates to stay focused on the task ahead at the T20 World Cup.

Azam led by example as Pakistan outclassed neighbours India in a World Cup showdown for the first time in their 13th attempt, triggering wild celebrations at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.

“We prepared well, and just kept the history out of our mind,” Babar, who combined with opening partner Mohammad Rizwan to chase down the target, said after the memorable victory.

“We applied our plans and got the results. We, the openers, kept it simple and built a partnership and because the wicket was getting better so we just wanted to keep batting till the end.”

The 2009 champions face New Zealand in their next Group 2 assignment on Tuesday and Babar warned his team mates against dropping their intensity.

“It won’t get easier just because we beat India,” said the elegant opener.

“We will take the confidence, but we’re taking it one match at a time, and there’s a long way to go in the tournament.”

Shaheen Afridi was adjudged man-of-the-match for his 3-31, which included the prize wicket of India captain Virat Kohli, who top-scored for his side with a classy 57.

Afridi rattled India early with the new ball, dismissing openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul in his successive overs to deny them a strong start.

“It was a historic moment for all of us,” Afridi told reporters.

“This was the first time I bowled three overs on the trot in the powerplay. I got some swing in the first two overs and my effort was to earn quick breakthroughs for my side which, fortunately, I was able to achieve.

“Bowling yorker with the new ball has been my strength and I tried the same against Rohit. It luckily worked.

“Batting against the new ball was tough, so credit goes to Babar and Rizwan for the way they played.”

With additional input from agencies

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