Pakistan skipper Babar Azam says he has been longing for a knock for the ages for quite some time after hitting his maiden T20I century against the Proteas on Wednesday.
Azam led from the front and took his team’s chase of 204 for victory by storm, smashing his way to 122 off 59 deliveries – the highest-ever score by a Pakistan batsman in the shortest format.
The knock guided Pakistan to a comfortable nine-wicket victory over the South Africans, taking a 2-1 series lead ahead of Friday’s final clash in Centurion.
‘I was waiting for such an innings for a long time,’ Azam said after the game.
‘I planned for it, and felt if I got a chance I would grab it. I am thankful that I was able to deliver. I stuck to my strengths and my gameplan was developed around team requirements. If you need 10 an over, you definitely have to play with urgency and, for that, you have to take risks.’
The captain and Mohammad Rizwan shared in a brilliant 197-run partnership for the opening wicket, which set Pakistan up for a comfortable victory in the end.
Rizwan reached another half-century of his own against the Proteas as he continued his solid form with the bat in T20Is.
‘The partnership with Rizwan was outstanding. I give him credit for the way he played because it is really tough to play while fasting and despite that, he batted and kept wicket throughout. It takes a lot of courage and guts. The whole team takes inspiration watching him and it brings us confidence.’
Azam also reached the summit of the ICC ODI batting rankings ahead of play on Wednesday, which provided him with extra motivation to deliver on the field.
‘It had always been my dream to be No 1 and that has been fulfilled. There was lots of hard work, suffering, and sacrifice needed to get there. I have always been trying to improve my game with each passing day, learning new things and applying them. We all know cricket evolves and you have to keep up with it or risk getting left behind,’ Azam added.