Pakistan’s captain was thrilled by the crowd that showed up at the National Stadium to watch the final day unfold
“This innings holds a lot of meaning for me, because the team needed it,” he said. “We were realistic about the chase. We wanted to bat normally till tea, and then if we found ourselves in a situation where we could go for the chase, we were good. But we lost wickets, unfortunately, so we didn’t really think of the chase. We needed to save the game. If I’d stayed for longer we might have tried to chase it.”
When Babar and Faheem Ashraf fell off successive balls, any ideas about a chase were immediately killed off, with Pakistan facing a final-hour battle to stave off defeat. “Rizwan and I were discussing what the situation demanded because the wicket wasn’t easy for the new batter,” Babar said. “The spinners were getting help. I had belief the way Sajid [Khan] and Nauman [Ali] batted, so I had trust in them to save the game for us.”
The pitches for the series have been a perpetual point of focus, with further scrutiny on the Karachi strip after the one in Rawalpindi was rated “below average” after a dull draw that saw just 14 wickets fall over five days. There was more assistance for the bowlers in Karachi, though it was reverse-swing that provided the most salient threat rather than the cracks in the pitch assisting spin. Babar said the conditions were the same for both sides, and thought the pitch had plenty to offer the bowlers.
“You get reverse for the fast bowlers here; they found it and so did we. The spinners found turn, too. I don’t think there was a difference in the reverse-swing they got in both innings. They got plenty here, too. There were a lot of soft dismissals in the first innings which can make you think it was reversing a lot. It was happening in the second innings too, but our batters were at their best. You get reverse-swing here in first-class cricket too, so they have an idea how to tackle it. When you’re playing against one of the best teams, they’ll give you a tough time.”
“When you play in front of your crowd and they support you, that feeling is so good I can’t explain it,” he said. “When the whole stadium backs you, it’s brilliant. We’re so happy that cricket is back, and we’re playing against such a big team here.”
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000