Embattled Pakistan Keeps World Cup Hopes Alive

Fakhar Zaman (81) and Abdullah Shafique (68) were the stars of Pakistan’s batting efforts with authoritative fifties after Bangladesh won the toss and elected to bat first…reports Asian Lite News

Besieged by problems on and off the pitch, Pakistan returned to winning ways in the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup at the Eden Gardens here, with a seven-wicket win against Bangladesh with 105 balls to spare.

Pakistan’s troubles in the field were manifested in their defeat in four successive matches while the problems out of the ground came through various allegations, one of which resulted in the chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq putting in his papers over conflict-of-interest charges.

Babar Azam’s team put all these issues on the back burner as it came up with a clinical performance to register their third win in seven matches and moved to fifth place in the standings, tied on six points with Afghanistan but with a better Net Run Rate.

Fakhar Zaman (81) and Abdullah Shafique (68) were the stars of Pakistan’s batting efforts with authoritative fifties after Bangladesh won the toss and elected to bat first.

In the first innings, Shaheen Shah Afridi (3-23), Mohammad Wasim (3-31), and Haris Rauf (2-36) were the pick of Pakistan bowlers, as the pacers rallied together for the Men in Green to bowl Bangladesh all out for a paltry total of 204.

For Bangladesh, seasoned batter Mahmudullah (56), who struck a half-century after a century against South Africa, and Shakib Al Hasan (43) showed a fight with the bat.

In reply, Pakistan reached 205/3 in just 32.3 overs — fourth time that they have won a men’s ODI World Cup game with over 100 balls to spare.

Fakhar Zaman showed relentless form in the first Power-play. The southpaw smacked four boundaries for Pakistan in this period. This included two exemplary sixes off the bowling of Taskin Ahmed and Mehidy Hasan Miraz, respectively.

He got good support from his partner, Abdullah Shafique, who garnered four stylish fours of his own in the first 10 overs.

Zaman and Shafique continued to make the most of a decent batting wicket and a good outfield. They churned out a series of fours and sixes as the Bangladesh shoulders dropped. Five sixes were added in the overs 11-20, as the duo added 72 runs.

Mehidy Hasan Miraz finally brought a breakthrough for Pakistan in the 22nd over, when he trapped Abdullah Shafique leg before for 68. However, Fakhar and Babar Azam ensured that Pakistan were right on track.

After the mid-innings mark, Mehidy struck twice to remove both Fakhar and Babar, but by then Pakistan were already well set to overtake the Bangladesh target.

In the first innings, Pakistan were right on the mark courtesy of an incisive spell from Shaheen Afridi. He pinned Tanzid Hasan’s leg before off the fifth ball of the game. The batter reviewed, but it turned out that the ball was clipping the top of his leg stump.

In the very next over, Shaheen Afridi had the out-of-form Najmul Hossain Shanto caught at forward square leg. Usama Mir took a sharp catch at the position to give Pakistan their second breakthrough.

Litton Das tried to pick up the pace for Bangladesh with a flurry of boundaries against Haris Rauf. However, it was the pacer who had the last laugh, when he got the experienced Mushfiqur Rahim to nick one behind the wicket.

Mushfiqur was replaced by the in-form veteran Mahmudullah, who ensured that the Tigers didn’t get too bogged down by the early damages.

After the first Power-play, Das and Mahmudullah took charge and hit a stream of boundaries. Their intent was backed by some erratic Pakistan bowling. The duo went at almost six an over between overs 11-20.

Against the run of play, Das gifted his wicket to Iftikhar Ahmed after he chipped one of his deliveries to the mid-wicket fielder.

Bangladesh batted conservatively over the next few overs, as Shakib Al Hasan tried to get in. Just when the batters looked like they were getting set, Mahmudullah (56) was cleaned up by a beauty from Shaheen.

Newcomer Tawhid Hridoy went gung-ho quite early in his innings, hitting a six off his second ball. However, this daredevilry cost him his wicket off the very next ball, as he nicked Usama Mir to the first slip.

Bangladesh finally picked up once more, when Shakib hit a hat-trick of boundaries in the 37th over against Iftikhar Ahmed.

However, any hopes of a Bangladesh resurgence ended when Shakib mistimed a pull-off Haris Rauf and fell for 43. Bangladesh managed to cross the 200-run mark at the back of a stand between Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Taskin Ahmed, but strikes from Mohammad Wasim soon ended their time at the crease.

Shakib Al Hasan opted to bat first after winning the toss. He believed that the pitch was dry, just the way it was in their last encounter against the Netherlands, and would offer a turn. They made one change to the side that fell short against the Dutch – Mahedi Hasan was replaced by Tawhid Hridoy.

Pakistan, on the other hand, went in with three changes. Fakhar Zaman, Salman Agha and Usama Mir were in for Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan.

Bright starts for Pakistan and Bangladesh have all but faded away as both sides barely remain in contention for the knockout stage of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.

Pakistan opened their campaign with convincing victories over the Netherlands and Sri Lanka but are now on a four-match losing streak that has left little margin for error in the race for a semi-final berth.

A fifth loss on the trot for the 1992 champions when they face Bangladesh would essentially end their hopes of progressing further even with two matches still to play, though a win here would boost Pakistan’s hopes of a late surge through the tournament.

Bangladesh are in an even more precarious position as they sit just above the last spot in the standings with only two points from a win over Afghanistan in their tournament opener.

While form might be lacking after five consecutive defeats, Shakib Al Hasan’s outfit can turn to Bangladesh’s first-ever ODI victory over Pakistan for inspiration, when they won their clash at the Cricket World Cup in 1999 by 62 runs.

That was one of only five victories that Bangladesh have secured in 38 ODIs against Pakistan who have all but dominated their encounters.

The most recent match-up in the format came in the Super Four stage of the recent Asia Cup when Pakistan strengthened their hold on the head-to-head record with a seven-wicket win.

Brief scores:

Bangladesh 204 all out in 45.1 overs (Mahmudullah 56, Shakib Al Hasan 43, Litton Das 45; Shaheen Shah Afridi 3-23, Mohammad Wasim 3-31, Haris Rauf 2-36) lost to Pakistan 205/3 in 32.3 overs (Abdullah Shafique 68, Fakhar Zaman 81; Mehidy Hasan Miraz 3-60) by 7 wickets.

ALSO READ: Afghanistan Bolsters Semifinal Ambitions

[soliloquy id="31272"]
[soliloquy id="31269"]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *