Imam, Babar and Shaheen sparkle for Pakistan at Lord’s in win over Bangladesh
Having looked at their extremely slim chances of entering the World Cup semi-final, Pakistan team opted to focus on the smaller picture of beating its opponents Bangladesh, in its ninth and last pool game of the tournament, at Lord’s. In doing so, it achieved a convincing 94-run win through the brilliant individual performances of batsmen – Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam – and fast bowler – Shaheen Afridi.
Pakistan 315 - 9 (Imam ul-Haq 100, Babar Azam 96; Mustafizur Rahman 5-75)
Bangladesh 221 (Shakib Al Hasan 64; Shaheen Afridi 6-35)
Result – Pakistan win by 94 runs
The World Cup game between Bangladesh and Pakistan, played on a glorious hot summer’s day at Lord’s, did not have the usual buzz, this particular rivalry has always carried. There was an obvious reason for that. In terms of semi-final slot, Bangladesh were out of the running and Pakistan, with only a one-in-a million mathematical possibility of squeezing in, amongst the last four.
As luck would have it, Pakistan’s 2019 World Cup campaign had been derailed by the factors, outside its control. The weather and results of other matches in the tournament rarely bothers a team playing well but Pakistan was not one of those. The defeats against Australia and India shook the team so badly that its balanced combination did not arrive till game number six against South Africa.
Its wretched start to the tournament and a washout against Sri Lanka resulted in creating extra pressure on the team. Even a late resurgence with on the bounce victories against South Africa, New Zealand and Afghanistan, proved in vain.
Today, Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and had no hesitation to bat first as it provided his country an outside chance to improve its net run-rate. In order for Pakistan to challenge New Zealand net run-rate, it had a ridiculously impossible target of winning the game by a margin of 321 runs or there about. No team in the world, let alone a struggling Pakistan side, could do that, at this level of the game.
The first powerplay gave some clues as to how Pakistan intend to approach this ‘dead’ World Cup fixture. Its score stood at 38-1. Imam-ul-Haq was steady throughout his innings and reached his hundred in the 42nd over. His second-wicket stand with Babar Azam, who was his usual fluent self, whilst constructing his innings, was worth 157 runs in 23.4 overs. Both batsmen found it hard to hit boundaries and it was quite clear that Pakistan could only think of this game and nothing beyond.
Though he reviewed umpire’s decision Babar, four short of his hundred was declared leg-before and had to leave, having faced 98 balls and hit 11 fours. At the end of 40 overs, Pakistan were well placed for a huge total, having reached 230-2. Bangladesh bowlers having toiled hard thus had other ideas. The departure of Imam (run-a-ball 100) sparked a collapse that saw Mohammad Hafeez and Haris Sohail, holing out catches in the deep. Soon Sarfraz, the non-striker was hit by a thundering straight drive from Imad Wasim and had to retire hurt.
The stage was set for Imad to show how dangerous he can be in the slog overs as Pakistan reached 266-5 after 45 overs. His ability to hit straight down the ground – only six of the innings in the 47th over - and square of the wicket on the off side provided the much-needed impetus. To its credit, Bangladesh kept claiming wickets, one through brilliant caught and bowled by Mustafizur to send back Shadab Khan, to keep a check. Imad’s 43 off 26 balls with 6 fours and a six, powered Pakistan to 315-9.
In the recent past, Bangladesh has been a tough opponent for Pakistan and it was very much a gettable target at Lord’s. The early inroads helped Pakistan bowlers to keep the Bangladesh batsmen in check. Tamim Iqbal, still looking for his best form, followed his partner Soumya Sarkar to the pavilion and the loss of Mushfiqur Rahim, as the third wicket on 78 in the 18th over was a real blow for the batting side.
From this point onward, it was going to be Shakib Al Hasan vs. Pakistan. He reached a fifty mark for the seventh time in the tournament and his dismissal for 64 off 77 balls put Pakistan in front. Shaheen, having already bagged Tamim, now had Shakib, caught behind in the 33rd over. A big wicket for the young fast bowler, who has bowled his heart out in the tournament.
The crowd were entertained by Mahmudullah and Mosaddek adding 43 runs in 7.3 overs for the 6th wicket stand but their team had little hope of reaching a stiff target of 316. Needing another 119 in the last 10 overs, Bangladesh lower order came up against Shaheen, who had come back very strong in his second spell. Highly impressive stint that had both pace and movement, he ripped through with a career-best figures of 6-35, also the best analysis by a Pakistan bowler in World Cup history.
Pakistan were successful in taming the Bengal tigers as last five wickets were captured in just 4.3 overs, with the addition of 24 runs. Even four consecutive victories could not make any difference as Pakistan team finished fifth in the final table of World Cup, a very creditable position to be in, given its infighting and poor pre-tournament form.
Pakistan - Fakhar Zaman, Imam ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Haris Sohail, Sarfaraz Ahmed(c)(wk), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Wahab Riaz, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Amir
Bangladesh - Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim(wk), Liton Das, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mehedi Hasan, Mashrafe Mortaza(c), Mustafizur Rahman
©Cricket World 2019