Shaheen, Babar and Rizwan star in series-clinching win

Pakistan produced an all-round performance in the final game of the T20I series against Ireland, clinching a comprehensive six-wicket win in the decider on Tuesday (May 14). Shaheen Afridi produced a sensational bowling effort, his 3 for 14 helping keep the hosts down to 178 when they were set for a much better total. The familiar and formidable pair of Babar Azam (75 off 42) and Mohammad Rizwan (56 off 38) shared a 139-run stand for the second wicket to chase the total down with three overs to spare.

Ireland were without regular captain Paul Stirling for this fixture and were put in to bat by Babar. The first 15 balls of the innings produced only a run a ball before Shaheen cleaned up Ross Adair with a full inswinger. Stand-in skipper Lorcan Tucker though injected much-needed momentum into the innings, getting off the blocks with a six and two fours from Hasan Ali’s first over.

At the end of the sixth over, Ireland had 50/1 on the board but began the post-PowerPlay phase brightly when Andrew Balbirnie and Tucker slammed Hasan for a six and a four respectively. Tucker raced away to a 29-ball half-century after hitting three boundaries off a Saim Ayub over. The 85-run partnership was eventually ended when Rizwan took a fine catch running in from third-man to dismiss Balbirnie for 35.

Tucker, however, continued in his enterprising ways, slamming a hat-trick of boundaries off Hasan Ali in the 13th over. At 132/2 at the start of the 14th over, the hosts were placed to target a total near 200 but their boat was rocked sideways when the captain hit Imad Wasim straight to long-off to be dismissed for an excellent 41-ball 73. Ireland’s innings unravelled there on and with the final four overs bringing only 31 runs. Shaheen dismissed Neil Rock and Mark Adair along the way to keep Ireland down to 178.

Pakistan’s chase was never threatened after Saim Ayub fell to Mark Adair in the third over. It brought together the trusted pair of Babar and Rizwan and the pair wasted no time in putting the visitors in control. Rizwan was the early aggressor, hitting Graham Hume for 6,4,4 in the fourth over and then had a sequence of 6, 6, 4 in the following over bowled by Craig Young.

Babar got going in the first over after the PowerPlay had brought 60 runs. The Pakistan skipper hit a pair of boundaries off Young to kickstart his innings. By the half-way mark of the chase, Pakistan were in control at 92/1. Aided by some fielding profligacy from the hosts, Pakistan turbocharged the second part of their chase starting with an 18-run 11th over in which Babar hit Curtis Campher for a six and two fours. Benjamin White was in for worse punishment as Babar hit him for four sixes, including three in a row to race past Rizwan. The century stand was eventually ended by Mark Adair while Young dismissed Babar in the following over.

Pakistan also lost Iftikhar Ahmed before the finish but Azam Khan marked the chase closed by hitting the last ball of the 17th over for six.

Brief scores: Ireland 178/7 in 20 overs (Lorcan Tucker 73; Shaheen Afridi 3-14) lost to Pakistan (Babar Azam 75, Mohammad Rizwan 56; Mark Adair 3-28) by six wickets

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