Fakhar Zaman reveals Babar Azam’s clever strategy to disturb NZ’s plans

Fakhar Zaman’s unbeaten century leads Pakistan to a seven-wicket win over New Zealand in the second ODI at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi on Saturday evening. This was Fakhar Zaman’s third successive hundred in the 50-over format – all three coming against New Zealand this year.

While speaking in the post-match interview, Fakhar revealed that Babar had instructed him to focus on playing a long innings, while he would take the risks. Pakistan captain’s reasoning behind this strategy was that if Fakhar stayed at the crease, New Zealand would not be able to bowl their left-arm spinner. This would put pressure on the bowling side and disrupt their plans.

“Babar was telling me to take singles and doubles and to focus on playing a long innings. He said if risks are needed, he’ll take them, because if I stayed there, they wouldn’t be able to bowl the left-arm spinner, and we would disrupt their plans,” Fakhar Zaman said in post-match interview.

“Everyone knows what a big batsman Babar is. His mindset is very different from others – he never comes under pressure, even if the required rate is rising. He kept telling me to stay calm, and that we’ll chase the runs easily,” he added.

Left-handed Fakhar ended-up scoring 180 not out – his third best individual score in this format. He faced 144 balls and struck 17 fours and six towering sixes. During the course of the innings, Fakhar also completed his 3,000 ODI runs. Chasing 337 to win, Fakhar and Imam-ul-Haq once again provided a solid start to the innings and the pair added 66 runs in 9.4 overs before Imam fell to Matt Henry for 24 off 26 balls, hitting three fours.

At that stage, Fakhar was joined by Babar Azam and the duo knitted a 135-run partnership for the second wicket. During the partnership, the world number one batter Babar brought up his 25th half-century. He scored 65 off 66, which included five fours and a six when he was caught by Chad Bowes off Ish Sodhi. Abdullah Shafique (7, 14b) was next to return back to the hut with Pakistan 218 for three in 34.1 overs and still requiring 119 runs off 95 balls.

At that point of the match, wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar got together and the pair scored runs at ease and helped Pakistan achieved the target with 10 balls to spare.

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