LAHORE: Captain Babar Azam and veteran batsman Mohammad Hafeez struck half centuries as Pakistan crushed woeful Bangladesh by nine wickets in the second Twenty20 international at Gaddafi Stadium here on Saturday. With the win, Pakistan won the three-match series after registering five-wicket victory in the first contest on Friday. The third and final T20I will be held at the same venue on Monday (tomorrow). This is Pakistan’s first T20I series victory since October 2018. Pakistan’s two wins have further consolidated the team’s chances of hanging on to their world number one ranking in the shortest format, which is in danger of being taken over by Australia. Pakistan must clean sweep the visitors to maintain their number one spot.Chasing a modest victory target of 137, Babar hammered undefeated knock of 66 off 44 balls for his 13th half-century while Hafeez made an undefeated 49-ball 67 to help Pakistan reach home in 16.4 overs, taking an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the series. The only hiccup in the largely one-sided contest was opener Ahsan Ali being sent back to the stands for a duck, caught by Mahmudullah Riyad off paceman Shafiul Islam in the second over. After the minor setback, ‘Professor’ Hafeez walked in to join skipper Babar. The duo, with their 131-run partnership, led their side to comfortable victory. World number one Twenty20 batsman Babar, who was bowled out without scoring on Friday, was in a punishing mood right from the outset, hitting seven boundaries and a six in his knock. He was declared ‘Player of the Match.’ Hafeez, recalled after 14 months in the Twenty20 side, stroked nine boundaries and a six in his 11th T20I fifty. Earlier, Bangladesh again failed to put up a challenging total despite opener Tamim Iqbal’s 53-ball 65, managing 136-6 in their 20 overs after winning the toss and batting for a second consecutive match. The visitors found Pakistan bowling led by paceman Mohammad Hasnain’s 2-20 hard to get off. Opener Mohammad Naim fell off the very first ball he faced, caught behind by wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan off lanky left-arm paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi who finished with 1-22. It could have been worse had Rizwan hang on to an inside edge off Iqbal’s bat off a luckless Hasnain when the batsman was 16. Iqbal took full advantage of the lapse, hitting seven boundaries and a six during his laborious knock. Bangladesh’s highest partnership was 31 for the fourth wicket as Afif Hossain knocked a six and a boundary in his 20-ball 21 before he holed out off Hasnain. Skipper Mahmudullah scored run-a-ball 12 as Bangladesh managed 48 in the last five overs.The series is a critical one for Pakistan, who are struggling to retain their top spot in the International Cricket Council’s World T20I Ranking, which they have held since 2018. Recently, Pakistan have had an unimpressive run in T20Is — in October 2019, they were whitewashed by an amateur Sri Lankan team in Lahore and lost another series to Australia a month later. The tour is of significance for Pakistan, as it is another step towards efforts to assure the world that the country is safe to host international cricket. Bangladesh had initially declined to play a Test in Pakistan, proposing that the match be held on a neutral venue. The PCB, however, refused to hold the match elsewhere. Bangladesh will leave the country on Monday, but come back again to play the first Test of the scheduled tour in Rawalpindi. They will depart once again only to return again after the fifth edition of the Habib Bank Limited (HBL) Pakistan Super League (PSL) to play one-off ODI and the second Test in Karachi.