Pakistani captain Babar Azam equaled the T20I record for most wins by a captain, joining Indian legend MS Dhoni with 41 victories. Azam achieved this milestone after Pakistan defeated New Zealand by 88 runs in the first T20I match of the five-match series at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. The 28-year-old Azam led the Men in Green for the 67th time in T20Is and secured his 41st win as Pakistan skipper in his 100th T20I match.
Dhoni, who led India in 72 T20I matches, achieved the same feat of 41 victories. Azam matched Dhoni’s record in five matches fewer than the Indian superstar. Azam now shares the second position with several other captains with the most wins in the shortest format of international cricket. He could reach the top position if Pakistan wins the second match against New Zealand, which will also take place in Lahore. Former England captain Eoin Morgan and ex-Afghanistan skipper Asghar Stanikzai currently hold the top position with 42 wins as T20I captains.
Azam was appointed as the captain of Pakistan’s T20I team in 2019, and he has won 41 matches out of 67, with 21 defeats. He is the third Pakistani batsman to have played in 100 or more T20I matches. In the match against New Zealand, Azam was dismissed for just nine runs from seven balls, but thanks to Fakhar Zaman and Saim Ayub, who both scored 47 runs each, Pakistan managed to post a total of 182 runs in 19.5 overs, losing all 10 wickets.
“I wasn’t expecting this (my 100th T20I game), grateful that I have achieved this feat. It was a team effort. We lost early wickets, but Fakhar and Ayub built the innings. Saim has been improving day by day, wish him good luck. I think our batters set up a good total on this wicket. We had a good bowling line-up, Rauf bowled well and so did the other bowlers. It’s good when you have many options. It was a collective effort as all the bowlers stuck to their plans,” Babar said after the win at the post-match presentation.
Despite fighting the total, New Zealand, fielding a second-string team without captain Kane Williamson, fell far short in their chase, getting dismissed for just 94 runs in 15.3 overs. Pakistani bowler Haris Rauf led the bowling attack, taking four wickets for just 17 runs. The next match in the series is set to take place on April 15 in Lahore.