Pakistan was faced with an impossible mathematical requirement to enter the semi-final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 ahead of their clash against Bangladesh. They had to score in excess of 400 to have a remote chance. Pakistan could manage only 315/9 thanks to Imam ul Haq’s maiden World Cup ton. Sarfaraz Ahmed’s side needed to bowl Bangladesh out for seven or less to secure a miraculous qualification. However, in the age of modernity, miracles were not possible and Pakistan crashed out of the semi-final race and handed New Zealand the fourth spot. Shakib Al Hasan continued his record-breaking run but Shaheen Afridi’s brilliant 6/35, the youngest to take a five-wicket haul and the best by a Pakistan bowler in the World Cup helped Pakistan avenge a 20-year pain by beating Bangladesh by 94 runs in Lord’s as their tournament ended in a bittersweet manner.
Imam and Shaheen’s performance ensured Pakistan’s roller-coaster journey ended on the ultimate high. Pakistan won the toss and chose to bat which ensured that they stayed in contention. However, Fakhar Zaman struggled against the discipline of the Bangladesh bowlers and struggled to get going. Zaman fell to Saifuddin but that brought together Imam and Babar Azam, Pakistan’s in-form batsman.
Azam started well with a couple of fours and together with Imam, strung a solid partnership. With both batsmen settling in, Azam and Imam rotated the strike brilliantly but they could not score at a rate which required them to reach 400. In the 28th over, Azam showed his intent by slamming a couple of boundaries off Mosaddek while he thumped three boundaries off Mustafizur as he neared a century. However, he missed a chance to reach his century when he was trapped LBW by Saifuddin for 96 and he could not reverse it on review.
Imam was joined by Mohammad Hafeez and both batsmen looked to go after the Bangladesh bowling in the death overs. Imam notched up his maiden World Cup ton but he was undone by the extra bounce of Mustafizur and ended up being hit-wicket for exactly a 100. Pakistan lost their way in the death overs, with Mustafizur taking his 100th ODI wicket and it took some big blows from Imad Wasim to help Pakistan reach 315/9, a total which was not enough to help them reach the semis. For Bangladesh, Mustafizur underlined his class with back-to-back five-wicket hauls, having taken 5/59 against India in Edgbaston.
When Bangladesh went past seven runs, Pakistan was eliminated and the match was a matter of pride for both nations. Mohammad Amir dismissed Soumya Sarkar after a brisk start but Shakib continued his magnificent form. Shaheen Afridi, though, was in fine form and he ended Tamim Iqbal’s poor tournament with a slower ball. Shakib, though, looked in fine touch but once he was undone by a pacy ball from Wahab Riaz, Bangladesh faced an uphill task.
Shakib notched up his seventh fifty-plus score and became the third person after Sachin Tendulkar and Matthew Hayden to go past 600 runs in one edition. His partnership with Liton Das, worth 58 runs kept Bangladesh in the hunt but once Shaheen sent back both Liton and Shakib in quick succession, the writing was on the wall. The tail struggled to put up a fight and Shadab Khan also helped Shaheen secure a big win.
The victory helped Pakistan eliminate the pain of 1999 in which they had lost to Bangladesh in Northamptonshire. However, the win will forever be bittersweet as they missed out on the last four due to net run-rate, thus denying them a chance to repeat the 1992 heroics.