Pakistan overcame a spirited Namibia by 45 runs to secure their place in the Men’s T20 World Cup semi-finals.
Pakistan smashed 130 from the final 10 overs to post an imposing 189-2, led by opener Mohammad Rizwan’s unbeaten 79.
Rizwan shared a 113-run stand with Babar Azam before Mohammad Hafeez thrashed 32 from 16 balls as Pakistan accelerated in Abu Dhabi.
Namibia produced several good partnerships but could only muster 144-5 from their 20 overs.
Pakistan had reached just 59-0 at the halfway stage of the innings before Rizwan and Babar, who made 70, began to hit more freely.
Babar’s side is top of Group 2 with four wins from four and cannot be passed, with New Zealand, Afghanistan, and India vying for second place.
They face Scotland in their final group game on Sunday while Namibia, who have now been eliminated, plays New Zealand on Friday.
Pakistan continue winning run
Pakistan has often got off to quick starts in the tournament but Rizwan and Babar had to pace themselves and get to grips with a lower pitch.
Rizwan in particular struggled, despite overturning an lbw dismissal against him on two, and he had reached just 16 from 25 balls after 10 overs.
The two batters spoke at the drinks break, discussing tactics before Babar thrashed two fours as the next over cost 12 runs.
Rizwan then seemed to find his fluency after hitting the first six of the innings over long-on, with he and Babar finding the boundary at least once and over.
They became the first partnership to share five-century stands in men’s T20Is before Babar slapped the experienced David Wiese to deep mid-wicket.
Rizwan reached his half-century in the penultimate over, hitting a towering six off Wiese to the delight of the crowd, which was vocal in their support of Pakistan.
The final over was a demolition. Rizwan hit three fours and one six off the first five balls from JJ Smit before a scrambled two took Pakistan to the second-highest total of the tournament so far.
Given Namibia’s relative inexperience against the big sides and the skill of Pakistan’s bowlers, some may have expected them to fold quickly.
Although they lost opener Michael van Lingen early to a quick, full Hasan Ali delivery, a 47-run stand between Craig Williams and Stephen Baard settled them.
Williams took the attack to Pakistan, walking towards left-arm spinner Imad Wasim and flat-batting him back down the ground, before holing out to long-off.
It was Wiese, a T20 veteran who previously played for South Africa, who gave Namibia some late energy with three fours and two sixes.
After seeing out the final over from Shaheen Shah Afridi, the two shared a warm hug, signaling the end of a match that was played in good spirit.
‘Pakistan are well gelled’ – what they said
Namibia captain Gerhard Erasmus: “We knew from the start that Pakistan had high-quality players and they were the in-form team in the tournament and serious title contenders.
“It doesn’t get any easier. New Zealand is a quality side but we can take some great quality from this game. This exposure shows that we can play at this level.”
Pakistan wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan: “Our team is well gelled at the moment, and whatever we need, we’ve got all the boxes.
“We ask all our supporters to have faith in us. We will put our best effort in.”
Ex-England spinner Alex Hartley on Test Match Special: “This is a big learning curve for Pakistan. Bowling with the wet ball at the death – these are the sort of experiences you want.
“Namibia has been really impressive today. They can keep their heads held high.”