Pakistan narrowly missed out on a World Cup semi-final berth despite comprehensively beating Bangladesh by 94 runs at Lord’s on Friday, writes JOHN GOLIATH.
A century by Imam-ul-Haq with the bat and a magnificent six-wicket haul for Shaheen Shah Afridi with the ball helped Pakistan to finish their tournament on a high.
Pakistan had to beat Bangladesh by 311 runs to propel them above New Zealand on net run-rate and allow them to sneak into the top four. If they had to bowl first they had almost no chance of making the playoffs.
A loud cheer went up when their captain Sarfaraz Ahmed won the toss and decided to bat first. The dream was still alive. Could Pakistan post something like 400, and then bowl Bangladesh cheaply to progress to the next round?
That question was basically answered after the first powerplay when Pakistan could only post 38-1. They just didn’t show the sort of intent that made you think they were actually going to go out and chase the type of score they needed to claim a semi-final berth.
But it was always going to difficult to beat Bangladesh, who have won over many fans with their dogged, yet exciting play. But Pakistan still enjoyed comprehensive victory, which was initially set up with the bat.
Pakistan managed to score an impressive 315-9, which came on the back of a well-played century by left-handed opener Imam (100 off 100 balls) and Babar Azam’s fine knock of 96 (98 balls).
The pair shared a partnership of 157 for the second wicket, before Barbar was trapped LBW by Mohammad Saifuddin (3-77). Imam lost his wicket 66 runs later with the score on 246.
All-rounder Imad Wasim then scored a quick-fire 43 off 26 balls to propel Pakistan over the 300-run mark.
Imad was Mustafizur Rahman’s fourth wicket of his five-wicket haul. The left-arm seamer has been brilliant at this World Cup and ended the tournament with 20 wickets. But won’t be able to add to it after the Tigers also failed to make the semis.
Bangladesh’s response with the bat would again depend on how their superstar all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan goes after making some massive contributions from the No 3 position at this tournament.
Shakib was in early after Afridi struck in the first over, and got stuck in to try and set the game up for his team.
The all-rounder managed to get to 64 off 77 balls, before edging an Afridi delivery behind to Sarfaraz to bring to an end a glorious tournament for the Bangladesh star.
Shakib (606 runs) became only the third batsman to score 600 or more runs at a single World Cup. Throw his 11 wickets in the mix, and he is definitely a candidate for player of the tournament.
But that half-century just wasn’t enough, as Afridi (6-35) cleaned up the Bangladesh middle and lower order with two superb spells of bowling, which saw him become the youngest bowler to grab a five-wicket haul at the World Cup.