Team India celebrates their 4-1 ODI series win against New Zealand on Sunday  |  Photo Credit: AP
Two long-time cricketing rivals were in action on Sunday on either half of the day. While India extended their lead in the ODI series by defeating New Zealand in the fifth ODI of their series with a thrilling 35-run win, Pakistan were left seven runs short of equalling the T20I series against South Africa as the hosts in Johannesburg put an end to visitor’s staggering run in the shortest format of the game. And hence, South Africa have gifted India a chance to equal Pakistan-set World Record in T20Is as New Zealand contest beckons.
Pakistan started off the chase on Sunday night with a 45-run opening partnership and stunning 102-run stand for the second wicket. Babar Azam remained the wreaker-in-chief for the South African attack as he bludgeoned 13 fours and a six to score 90 off 58 at a strike rate of 155.17. Ably supporting him was Hussain Talat with his 55 off 41 laced by seven boundaries and a solitary six.
And even after Babar’s dismissal in the 17th over, Pakistan required 41 off 23 balls. But wickets thereafter fell in quick time with the next four batsmen scoring all single-digit numbers before Pakistan were left seven short of the target of 189.
With the defeat in Johannesburg, Pakistan lost the series 0-2 with one more match remaining in the series. This was Pakistan’s first T20I series loss since World T20 2016 which makes it 11 series win a row – a world record. The last bilateral series they lost in the format was against New Zealand in 2016 (1-2).
Ergo, India are left with a chance to the world record set by their long-time rivals. India, who are undefeated in their last 10 bilateral T20I series which consists of eights wins and two draws. Since their defeat to West Indies in a one-off encounter in July 2017, India defeated Sri Lanka (1-0), drew against Australia at home (1-1), beat New Zealand at home (2-1), whitewashed Sri Lanka at home (3-0), won in South Africa (2-1), lifted the Nidahas tri-series Trophy, won in Ireland (2-0), won in England (2-1), whitewashed West Indies at home (3-0), and drew against Australia (1-1).
Hence, the impending New Zealand series, a three-match T20I contest that starts February 6 in Wellington, leaves India a chance to make it 11 in a row and thereby equal the world record.