New Zealand spinner Mitchell Santner admitted that Babar Azam and Haris Sohail’s 124-run partnership was key to Pakistan’s win at the ICC World Cup 2019 group stage match at Birmingham on Wednesday.
"It's the spinner's role to take wickets on a surface like that, but credit has to go to Pakistan for the way they batted. That partnership through the middle was pretty special,” Santner said.
"The way they were able to manipulate the field when they were only chasing 237; that was the way to go about it.
"It's not easy (facing Babar). That was a pretty special knock out there today. He looked like he had it in him from the word go and the way he paced his innings was pretty special.
"Him and Haris Sohail took it away from us in those middle overs.”
Santner also admitted that Pakistan have seemingly found momentum at the right time and might just be in with a chance of qualifying for the semis should they win their last two games.
"When teams get momentum, they are difficult to stop. Pakistan are right up there with some of the best.
"We saw Pakistan do that in the Champions Trophy and they couldn't be stopped, so they're obviously timing their run well. If they win their next two, they're in with a real sniff."
A win against Pakistan would have sent the Black Caps to the semi-finals, meaning there wouldn’t be as much pressure on them going into their remaining two games against Australia and England.
However, Santner is confident that the side can come back strong and end the group stages on a high.
"For sure you want to win every game and if we'd won today it would have been a semi-final spot. But there's no easy beats in this competition.
"Pakistan have played very well in these conditions before having won the Champions Trophy, so we knew it was going to be a tough game today and it was. We scrapped at the end but came on the wrong side of a nail biter.
"It puts more pressure on us in the final few games but we're going to look to win them and go from there."
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