Pakistan 205 for 3 (Fakhar 81, Shafique 68, Mehidy 3-60) beat Bangladesh 204 (Mahmudullah 56, Litton 45, Afridi 3-23, Wasim 3-31) by seven wickets
By PakPassion Staff (31st October, 2023)
Pakistan displayed a remarkable performance, which ignited their hopes of a semi-final qualification, as they convincingly defeated Bangladesh by seven wickets in the 2023 Cricket World Cup. One of the standout moments of the match was Shaheen Shah Afridi's brilliance with the ball, as he became the fastest quick bowler to reach 100 ODI wickets and emerged as the leading wicket-taker in the tournament alongside Adam Zampa. His exceptional performance helped dismiss Bangladesh for just 204. Fakhar Zaman, who was making a comeback to the side, played a pivotal role with his vintage 74-ball 81, setting Pakistan on course for a vital win.
The match began in true Pakistan fashion, with Shaheen Afridi taking a wicket in the very first over. He trapped Tanzid Hasan lbw off the fifth ball, marking his 100th ODI wicket and then swiftly added another by dismissing Najmul Hossain Shanto caught at square leg. Haris Rauf joined the party by removing Mushfiqur Rahim with a well-deserved wicket, after being belted for three boundaries in his initial over.
Bangladesh found some respite through a 79-run partnership between Litton Das and Mahmudullah. This partnership helped them recover from the early damage inflicted by the Pakistani bowlers. However, Pakistan's leg spinner, Usama Mir, had another off day, struggling to find his line and length consistently and was regularly punished, especially by Mahmudullah, who appeared the most accomplished of the Bangladeshi batters.
The turning point of the innings occurred when Litton Das was dismissed in a soft manner. He was out to a harmless delivery from Iftikhar Ahmed, a long hop which Litton inexplicably offered up as an easy catch to short midwicket. Shakib Al Hasan, who had been relatively slow to get going, was then cleaned up by Shaheen Afridi with an unplayable reverse-swinging delivery. With reverse swing coming into play during the final 15 overs, Bangladesh's lower-order batsmen struggled, and Pakistan capitalized on the situation as Babar Azam expertly rotated his bowlers.
Only when Shakib decided to take on the spinners did Bangladesh show any intent. Iftikhar was hit for three boundaries, and Mehidy Hasan Miraz dispatched Usama for a six over cow corner. To counter this, Babar brought back Haris Rauf's pace, and Shakib fell in his first over to yet another short ball. Mohammad Wasim then wrapped up the tail quickly, taking just seven balls to dismiss Mehidy, Taskin Ahmed, and Mustafizur Rahman, as they were bowled out for 204.
Pakistan's opening batsmen had a sedate start in the first three overs, but Fakhar Zaman, in particular, started to loosen up. After scoring just three runs in the initial 11 balls, he launched Taskin for a massive 99 meter six over square leg to kickstart his innings. Fakhar later revealed that he was not concerned about the pitch conditions because he knew he could hit sixes anywhere, a belief he demonstrated throughout his innings as he consistently found the boundary with big hits.
During the powerplay, Fakhar and Abdullah Shafique reached their half-century partnership. Shafique joined the run-fest, and the partnership raced towards the three-figure mark. Shafique was particularly harsh on Mustafizur Rahman, pummeling him for three successive boundaries in the 12th over, while Fakhar smacked Mehidy for another six. Fakhar's fifth six brought up his half-century, and Shafique calmly reached his own half-century in the same over. Shafique played one of the day's best shots, a massive hit over cow corner off Taskin that cleared the boundary with ease. At that point, Pakistan seemed to be cruising to a ten-wicket victory.
Mehidy, however, managed to slow down Pakistan's progress by taking three wickets. Shafique was dismissed while attempting a sweep, Babar holed out to long-on without getting into double figures, and Fakhar, who had hit two sixes off Mehidy, mistimed a shot that found the midwicket boundary. Fakhar was dismissed for 81, though he appeared set for a century.
In the end, it didn't affect the outcome much as Mohammad Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed unleashed a flurry of boundaries to guide Pakistan to victory with more than 17 overs to spare. This win ended the recent gloomy spell for Pakistan, while Bangladesh was officially eliminated from the tournament. Pakistan's late charge in the ICC tournament seemed to be awakening from its slumber, and their hopes of a semi-final spot were rekindled.